What types of trademarks are there?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

Trademarks can be categorized into different types based on their distinctiveness and the relationship between the mark and the goods or services it represents. Here are the common types of trademarks recognized by the USPTO:

  • Fanciful Marks: These are invented or coined terms that have no dictionary meaning. They are inherently distinctive and provide the highest level of protection. Examples include "Xerox" or "Kodak."
  • Arbitrary Marks: These are existing words that have no direct connection to the goods or services they represent. The mark's meaning and the product or service are unrelated. For instance, "Apple" for computers or "Amazon" for an online marketplace.
  • Suggestive Marks: These marks suggest or hint at a quality or characteristic of the goods or services but require some imagination or mental connection to understand the association. An example is "Netflix" for online streaming, suggesting a combination of "internet" and "flicks."
  • Descriptive Marks: These marks directly describe a characteristic, quality, or feature of the goods or services they represent. They are typically not registrable unless they acquire distinctiveness through extensive use and recognition. For example, "Vision Center" for an optometry clinic.
  • Generic Terms: These are common, everyday words that refer to the general category or class of goods or services. Generic terms cannot be registered as trademarks because they do not distinguish a particular source. For instance, "Computer" cannot be registered as a trademark for computers.

It's important to understand that the level of protection and the registrability of a trademark may vary depending on the jurisdiction. In general, the more distinctive and unique a mark is, the stronger its protection and chances of successful registration.

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