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Trademark Strength Spectrum

By Eric Misterovich

Mark strength is a measure of the distinctiveness of a trademark and can be represented on a linear scale, or as we call it, the Trademark Strength Spectrum. At one end of the scale are the strongest and most distinctive trademarks, such as arbitrary and fanciful marks. At the other are suggestive marks and descriptive marks.

The higher a proposed mark is on the scale, the more likely it is to receive federal trademark registration. In order to receive the benefits of trademark registration, care should be taken to select a mark that is high on the scale below.

Arbitrary Mark

An arbitrary mark is a common term used in association with goods dissimilar from that term. For example, APPLE when used in association with computers and AMAZON when used in association with the sale of books are arbitrary trademarks because those terms do not describe or suggest the goods or services sold thereunder.

Fanciful Mark

A fanciful mark is a created term that, other than as its use as a trademark, has no meaning in ordinary language. For example, the term Kodak is a fanciful mark because it has no meaning in the English language other than as an indicator of source for the goods and services of the photography company.

Suggestive Marks

Suggestive marks are marks that indicate the nature, quality, or characteristics of the goods or services offered under the mark. For example, the term Greyhound is a suggestive trademark because it suggests a quality or characteristic of the services provided, namely, that the bus service is as fast as a greyhound.

Descriptive Marks

Finally, descriptive trademarks are trademarks that directly describe the goods or services, or a characteristic of the goods or services, sold under the trademark. For example, the mark APPLE PIE, when used in association with scented candles, is descriptive because it directly describes a characteristic of those candles, specifically, that have an apple pie scent.

However, some descriptive marks may still qualify for trademark registration under Section 2(f).

These issues should be considered when determining whether to apply for trademark registration, or ¬†even better, before significant investment is made into building a brand. Revision Legal’s experienced trademark attorneys regularly assist companies in performing trademark clearances prior before making a final selection on a name, logo, or slogan. To lean more about Revision Legal’s trademark services, click here.

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