How is "acquired distinctiveness" in trademark law evaluated?

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Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

When a trademark that is descriptive has been continuously and exclusively used for over five years and has gained recognition by the public associating it with a particular set of services and goods, it might obtain "acquired distinctiveness".

There are six most important factors evaluated when speaking of acquiring distinctiveness:

  1. association of the mark with a particular source by the relevant consumers (measured by consumer surveys or consumer studies);
  2. length, degree and exclusivity of use;
  3. amount and manner of advertising;
  4. number of sales and customers;
  5. intentional copying;
  6. unsolicited media coverage of the product embodying the mark.

One of the essential and well-known cases regarding this topic was the McDonald's phrase "I'm lovin' it", first published to build the association with McDonald's products and eventually gaining recognition.

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