What does 'acquired distinctiveness' mean?

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Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

Acquired distinctiveness, also known as secondary meaning or secondary distinctiveness, is a concept in trademark law that allows a mark to be registered and protected even if it is initially descriptive, generic, or lacks inherent distinctiveness. It refers to the transformation of a descriptive or weak mark into a distinctive and protectable trademark through extensive use and consumer recognition.

When a mark has acquired distinctiveness, it means that, over time, the mark has become strongly associated with a particular source of goods or services in the minds of consumers. Through continuous and exclusive use in commerce, the mark has gained a secondary meaning that goes beyond its ordinary descriptive or generic interpretation.

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