August 2018

I have recently added two new sections to my website at On the "Peltonisms" page you can find short quotes with key trademark and branding tips, such as the ones below. And on the "Trademark Visuals" page you will find graphics and visual aids to explain key trademark and branding concepts.
I hope you enjoy, if you have any feed back or suggestions, drop me a line.

Trends in the field of trademarks

In this new video I discuss how in 20 years in the field, many things remain the same. Yet technology has changed (a) branding a marketing due to the internet and social media, as (b) the practice of protecting trademarks using software and online tools. 

Trademark Trends
Trademark Trends

Where does your brand fit on the sliding scale of trademark protection?

Some brands (trademarks) are entitled to greater protection than others, it is a sliding scale. The type of brand name determines a lot about the registrability and scope of protection:

There are five basic types of marks. In descending order from those with the most protection to the least, they are:
  • Coined: completely new and made up terms, such as Exxon® for oil and gas, and Kodak® for film and cameras.
  • Arbitrary: not made up, but unrelated to the goods or services, such as Yahoo!® for internet services, and Apple® for use with computers.
  • Suggestive: words which relate to the goods or services, but are not descriptive of them, such as CAFE GELTATOHHH!® for restaurant services featuring gelato, EBEANSTALK® for online store services featuring developmental toys, and TUFFRAX® for ceiling-suspended shelves.
  • Descriptive: terms which can be used to refer to a product or service, or its functions or characteristics, such as Sports Illustrated® for sports magazine, and US PRO GOLF TOUR® for golf tournaments.
  • Generic: words which are commonly used to refer to a good or service, or answer the question "what is it?" (such as "Laptop" for a portable computer).
Coined, arbitrary and suggestive names are generally able to become registered trademarks, provided someone has not already registered a confusingly similar mark for a related product or service. Coined and arbitrary marks are given the 'strongest' protection and are thus the most desirable. Descriptive marks may sometimes be registered, but generally are afforded less protection. For this reason, descriptive marks are considered 'weak.' Generic trademarks are the weakest of all - they are entitled to little or no protection.

In my opinion, suggestive names or coined terms that are suggestive are generally the best because they are entitled to good protection, creative, and tell the consumer something about your goods or services.

Aloha Poke Co.

In recent weeks, a brand called Aloha Poke Co. has caused quite a stir. I certainly think that the company and its counsel could have handled the letters they sent more delicately. But trademark law grants them the ability to protect the business name, Aloha Poke, and to enforce it against other uses who may be infringing by using that name. The law does not really consider whether or not the term has a special value to a culture or community; if it did there would be many degrees of subjectivity involved in assessing many terms.

Here is a good article providing some background on the dispute:

Upcoming speaking engagements:

ABA-IPL UPSTO Trademark Day: I will be arguing a live TTAB case at this one day seminar on September 20th in Alexandria, VA.

Association of Intellectual Property Firms (AIPF) annual meeting: I will be on a panel discussing pro bono work for IP counsel. The conference is September September 26-28 in Chicago, IL.

Intellectual Property Law institute, presented by ICLE: I will be speaking on TTAB proceeding tips with Chief Judge Rogers. October 25-26 in Dearborn, IL.

If there are any topics or issues you would like to see covered here, let us know!

This publication has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not intended to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter. Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, it may be considered advertising material.

© 2018 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC. 

Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC, 111 Park Place, Suite 1A, Falls Church, VA 22046
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