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Understanding what you can (and cannot) trademark

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2022 | Trademark Law

Given the importance that comes with branding in today’s economy, the importance of a strong trademark cannot be overemphasized. The overall purpose of a trademark is to protect your creation from unfair exploitation by third parties. But, can you trademark anything you wish to?

If you are thinking about turning your brand into a registered trademark, it helps to start off by understanding the exact intellectual property asset that qualifies for this protection.

So what can you trademark?

Also known as a service mark, a trademark serves to identify a brand with the goods or services it offers. Generally, you can trademark a logo, slogan, abbreviations, packaging designs and sounds. While the specifics may vary with jurisdictions, here are the conditions that you must fulfill before your trademark can be registered:

  • Your mark should be original and distinctive to prove commercial origin. If you are trademarking a product or company name, then it is important that it is arbitrary or suggestive.
  • Your mark must apply to specific products or services as detailed in your trademark application.

When your trademark can be refused

Just because you have used a copyright or patent to protect your creation does not mean that you cannot trademark it. Intellectual property rights are not mutually exclusive. They can overlap as long as the target product or service is eligible for trademarking.

Here are provisions that can lead to the refusal of your trademark application.

  • Anything that lacks distinctiveness- basically, a term that literally describes an item as it is (for instance, “cow”, “wine”, “gold”) cannot be trademarked as they are reserved for common use. Similarly, you cannot trademark a mark or symbol that does not indicate a specific commercial enterprise to consumers.
  • Anything that is likely to lead to confusion – if the product or service you intend to trademark is identical to an already registered trademark, then you cannot register it.

When you create a product or service, you need to protect it. Find out how you can use a trademark to protect your creation and business interests.