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suggestive trademark

What is a Suggestive Trademark, and Why is it a Good Choice?

By John DiGiacomo

In general, there are five types of word or phrase trademarks that are on a spectrum of strength and distinctiveness: fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. Fanciful word trademarks are made-up words like EXXON and PEPSI. The words have no other meaning than the association that the words have with the product or service being sold. Arbitrary word trademarks are known words/phrases that are associated with products or services in an arbitrary manner. APPLE is a famous example of an arbitrary word trademark where fruit is used for computer and tech products.

A suggestive word/phrase trademark is a word or phrase that suggests the nature or quality of the goods or services being provided but that does not explicitly identify the type or quality of goods or services. AIRBUS, KITCHENAID, and COPPERTONE are good examples. In each case, the word trademark suggests the product/service or some quality of the product/service without precise identification. A suggestive trademark is distinct from a descriptive trademark which simply describes the product/service and other qualities. A famous descriptive trademark is AMERICAN AIRLINES. The service — air travel — and the location of the company are described in the trademark.

There are several advantages of creating a suggestive trademark. First, a suggestive trademark is strong and distinctive. This means that a suggestive trademark will function as a trademark. A trademark functions when it creates — in the minds of the consuming public — an association between the trademark and the goods/services being sold or provided. As a fanciful trademark, EXXON functions as a trademark because the only meaning for the word/phrase is an association with a commercial enterprise that sells petroleum products. A suggestive trademark functions in the same way but is less strong than a fanciful trademark.

In addition, a suggestive trademark can become quickly established in the minds of consumers. This is because the word/phrase usually has a somewhat uncommon spelling or relationship to the product/service. As such, an association is easily triggered. For the same reasons, a suggestive trademark can be created more easily and can avoid being confusingly similar to already-existing trademarks. A trademark is the exclusive intellectual property of its owner. Thus, new trademarks are barred from use if they are the same as, or confusingly similar, to established trademarks.

Finally, a suggestive trademark has the advantage of being more easily registered with the US Patent & Trademark Office and can be placed on the Principal Register (rather than the Supplemental Register). Registration is important to provide the trademark owner with the full legal protections that are provided by U.S. law. The USPTO has detailed rules with respect to whether a proposed new trademark can be registered. One rule states that a trademark cannot be registered unless it is strong, distinctive, and functions as a trademark. By USPTO rules, a suggestive trademark satisfies those requirements. Thus, a suggestive trademark can be immediately registered (as long as the other rules are also satisfied).

Contact the Trademark Attorneys at Revision Legal For more information, contact the experienced Trademark Lawyers at Revision Legal. You can contact us through the form on this page or call (855) 473-8474.

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