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What makes a trademark strong?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Trademark Law

If you’re starting a new business or perhaps rebranding your current one, you want to do everything possible to discourage other parties from illegally using your intellectual property (IP). While you can’t guarantee that someone won’t do this – intentionally or simply through lack of due diligence –it definitely helps to have a strong trademark. 

A strong trademark, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes as one that’s “inherently distinctive,” can, of course, also help your business stand out from the crowd. 

Fanciful, arbitrary or suggestive

According to the USPTO, the strongest trademarks are “fanciful” or “arbitrary.” What does that mean?

A fanciful trademark isn’t as ethereal as it sounds. It’s simply an invented word. Pepsi would be an example. It’s not a word, so any time you hear “Pepsi,” you think of the beverage. 

An arbitrary trademark is an actual word, but one that has no other relationship to the company or the product or service being offered. An example would be Apple. While “apple” is obviously a fruit (and used in the company’s branding), it has nothing to do with the products and services it offers.

A little further down the scale are “suggestive” trademarks. These are trademarks that are descriptive or suggestive in some way of the product or service provided by the company. They’re fairly common, but some are more creative than others. Coppertone sun-tanning products and La-Z-Boy recliners are just a couple of examples of creative, suggestive brand names. 

There’s a lot to know when it comes to choosing and registering your trademark and any other type of IP. By having legal guidance with your IP from the beginning, you can help save yourself a lot of unnecessary time and expense later.