• October 2018
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How do I know if my trade name is too broad to be used as a trademark?

You cannot trademark a generic term which is often categorized with the blanket description of common words which can be found in the dictionary. These words are not specific to any particular source and they typically identify products and services.

There are five categories of trademarks which include fanciful marks, arbitrary marks, suggestive marks, descriptive marks, and generic terms. Fanciful marks are made-up words that have no relation to the goods being described such as EXXON. Arbitrary marks are existing words that have bearing on the goods that are being described, such as APPLE. Suggestive marks are words that relate to the product, such as COPPERTONE. Finally, descriptive marks are words that are commonly used to describe the industry such as soft drinks, running shoes, etc.

A trademark can fall into the generic category on accident. If the trademark becomes so popular and the mark replaces the actual name of the product, then trademark will then lose its distinctiveness. A great example of this is “Coke”, Coca-Cola actually had to trademark the new catchphrase as a result. This pattern is often referred to as genericide as the trademark owner unknowingly participates in the dilution of the trademark. 

So when thinking about your possible trademark, think about which one of the five categories yours would fall into. Fanciful marks have been known to be trademarked, perhaps the most popular being Aspirin.

Basically, the process is pretty complex and often highly difficult to navigate. That’s why people often recommend that you seek out the advice of an experienced. If you’re interested in affordable and on-demand legal services, check out what we’re building at LawTrades. We can connect you with an attorney who will assist you throughout the entire process and will be more than willing to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out if I can answer any more questions 🙂

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