The following is an edited transcript of our video Why Some Trademarks Receive More Protection Than Others
Not all trademarks are created equally. Some are entitled to more protection than others. A trademark can be anything that indicates the source of a business’s products or services, such as:
- product shapes
- product packaging
- building shapes
We’re going to be focusing on words and why some get more protection than others. It’s important to remember that creativity and uniqueness are very relevant, but it only in the relevant brand or industry to qualify for stronger protection.
At one end of the protection scale are generic words. They’re not eligible for protection at all. Foe example, a camera company called “Cameras” will get zero protection because it describes the category of things that are being made or sold.
A descriptive term is weaker, but it is entitled to some protection, and over time it can become a stronger mark. A descriptive name might be “Camera Supply” for a website selling camera products. It describes what the service is, and that’s a weaker but generally protectable name.
A suggestive name is inherently distinctive. It’s not made up or arbitrary, and alludes to or suggests something about the product or services, such as Netflix. It tells you that it has something to do with movies and the internet, but because it’s a made up combination of syllables and portions of words, it’s suggestive.
An arbitrary name is something like Apple, because it doesn’t tell you anything about the products or services offered.
At the other end of the protection scale are coined or fanciful words, which are entirely made up words like Kodak for cameras. A totally made up word will get the strongest protection in general
If you look at studies that are done all the time about the most well-known or strongest brands, very few of them are descriptive words. It is much easier to become a household name when the word is suggestive, arbitrary or coined.