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Trademark News

How to Choose a Strong Name


Trademarks play an important role in making sure our intellectual property stays safe. If you’ve seen the previous blog post, you would know that there are multiple types of trademarks that you can use to protect your work. What you may not know is that there are also standards that can be used to help gauge the strength of a trademark.


The first standard of a trademark is a fanciful mark. A fanciful mark is a trademark that’s doesn’t mean anything and its sole function is to act as a trademark. As the strongest type of trademark, fanciful marks are inherently distinctive. They consist of a combination of letters and symbols that don’t mean anything and only are related to a particular product or service. Perhaps the most recognizable example of a fanciful trademark is Google. Other examples include Exxon and Kodak.


Arbitrary marks are when the trademark is a word that already exists but is in no way associated with the actual firm. This is the second strongest marks. For example, Apple has created a brand whose name is instantly recognizable all over the world. However, the company itself has nothing to do with the fruit.


Suggestive marks can be either made-up or real words, but the key difference between these and arbitrary and fanciful marks is that these marks are somehow connected to the actual brand itself. As the name suggests, instead of directly referencing the company, they tend to hint at it. Although these marks are slightly weaker than the aforementioned two, they are still considered by the USPTO to be quite strong. To illustrate, Microsoft, a software company has the word “soft” in the trademark. Similarly, Android, an AI user software uses the theme of technology and artificial intelligence to create the company’s name.


Descriptive marks are usually seen as the transition between stronger and weaker marks. By explicitly describing the company’s products, they offer less protection. The trademarked word or image can be used to describe different products, which usually means the descriptive mark fails to act as a trademark. Words that describe characteristics, the end result, use or attributes don’t usually receive trademark protection. One common example of a descriptive mark is using “ Cold and Creamy” as the name of an ice-cream shop.


Generic words/marks are generally not even thought to be trademarks as they are so specific to the product that they are considered to be incapable of ever functioning. They are nouns that are a common language, so it is impossible to give the exclusive rights to the use of that word to one firm or individual. One example of a generic mark is the use of the word “clock” as the name of a timepiece company.

Intern, Aditi Khandavilli