Five categories of trademarks often neglected
Some of the vital things a business owner must consider in order to develop and create a reputation for his products or services are his business’ name, its protection and generally the protection of several of the features of its products through which people might distinguish his business. What would his business be worth if everyone could use the same brand name or packaging and consumers were not able to separate and distinguish it from other businesses? Another company would easily be able to take advantage of a business’ reputation and thus its reputation could get damaged, the only possible way for this to be avoided is through intellectual property rights. Although many business owners understand the importance of protecting their brand name they usually neglect to protect other characteristics, the following are several categories of trademarks which can be protected and will be helpful to keep your brand’s identity safe.
1. Product Packaging Shapes
It is possible to get trademark protection for the shape of packaging of products. A good example would be coca cola bottes. It is widely known and accepted that Coca cola has used the same design for its bottles for generations and thus consumers are able to recognise its design without even reading the brand name. Another recent example could be the POM wonderful bottle. Consequently, if your product has a unique packaging shape it is worth trade mark protection.
2. Product Packaging Designs
When referring to packaging, shape is not the only thing to take into consideration, to be more specific the design as well as the colour schemes might also be protected. If we consider again Coca cola the red theme with the white wave line which exists in most of their products is also protected. It is evident that costumers recognise the products of coca cola through this. As a result, it is understandable that you can protect the design as well as the colour schemes in your product’s packaging if it is unique enough.
3. Restaurant Themes and Colour Schemes
Another unique category which could be protected as a trademark is restaurant themes and colour schemes. To be more specific if a franchise company has for example has a specific interior colour scheme and furnishing, this could be protected by trademarks. Provided that consumers recognise just by the décor and colour scheme the business it can for sure be protected.
Surprisingly a further category is sounds. Although it might not seem practical in many cases sounds have been accepted as protected trademarks due to the fact that costumers distinguish the business just by a certain sound. Some examples of distinct sounds which we would definitely recognise are the rumble of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, the five note Intel jingle, Nokia ringtone etc.
Colour is one more category which would seem not distinctive enough to be registered as a trademark and indeed in an application for trade mark registration when a colour is attempted to be registered several elements as well as proof must be provided to indicate that it is distinct enough and thus consumers recognise the business through it. A bright example was the attempted colour trademark registration by UPS. UPS applied for trade mark registration of the colour brown, the application was rejected and as reply UPS launched the marketing campaign which used the phrase ‘What can Brown do for you?’ which has most likely now secured them the colour brown in connection with shipping and commercial carrier services.
It is understandable that trade mark law allows for the protection of most if not all of the features of a product if they are distinct enough and if the consumers are able to recognise the business through them. Consequently, business owners should take advantage of the existing legislation and protect their products in order to avoid someone using the goodwill, their business has established over the years, for his benefit.