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What is a “Fanciful” Trademark and Why Does It Matter?

By John DiGiacomo

Trademarks are powerful tools that can be used to create and cement customer loyalty to a product or service and that can drive sales and profits. Some trademarks are so powerful and famous that, by themselves, the trademarks are worth billions of dollars. To be powerful, a trademark must be distinctive enough to create an association in the minds of consumers between the trademark and the product or service being offered for sale. In this respect, it is generally considered that there is a spectrum of distinctiveness with “fanciful” trademarks being the most distinctive. As discussed below, having a distinctive trademark is important for several reasons. Once a trademark is established and has begun to function as a trademark, it is necessary to legally protect the trademark to the fullest extent allowed under the law. A trademark entitled only the owner of the trademark to use it. If someone else infringes on that use, then trademark infringement litigation can be initiated. Substantial money damages can be obtained if the trademark infringement litigation is successful. Of course, top-tier trademark lawyers and trademark infringement litigation attorneys will be needed to provide legal assistance and to prosecute the case.

What is a fanciful trademark?

In most circumstances, a “fanciful” trademark is one that is a “made-up” word or combination of letters or numbers which have been invented or created for the sole purpose of being used as a trademark or service mark. Some of the most famous examples are GOOGLE, PEPSI, KODAK, KLEENEX and EXXON. Another manner of creating a fanciful trademark is to use an old English word that is no longer in common usage. Examples included FLIVVER and FUZZLE.

When creating a possible trademark, it is important to consult with a trademark and intellectual property lawyer to conduct a trademark usage search. If a proposed trademark is already in use, then a different trademark will have to be created. Further, deeply knowledgeable trademark lawyers can help with the creative process, too. For example, when creating a fanciful trademark, it is not enough to string some symbols together. The goal is to create a linkage between the trademark and the product/service. A strange, weird and unpronounceable trademark will not function as a trademark since customers will not be able to remember it. The key is to invent a word that can be pronounced and remembered.

Why a fanciful trademark matters

There are several reasons that having a fanciful trademark is an advantage. First, to have maximum legal protection, a trademark must be registered with the US Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”). The easiest type of trademark to register with the USPTO are fanciful trademarks. This is because, as noted above, a fanciful trademark is inherently distinctive. For other types of less distinctive trademarks to be registered, the USPTO requires proof that the trademark has acquired “secondary meaning.” This can be difficult and expensive to show.

Another advantage of a fanciful trademark is that it will be less likely to already be in use. This will make it easier to have the trademark registered.

Contact the Trademark Lawyers at Revision Legal For more information or if you have questions about creating and registering a trademark, contact the trademark lawyers at Revision Legal at 231-714-0100. We can defend your trademarks from infringement and can provide a trademark infringement defense team if you are wrongly accused.

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