How to Tell the Difference Between A Strong and Weak Trademark

Strong trademarks are so distinctive that it is easy to prevent a third-party from using the mark. It is also less difficult to both register and defend these trademarks. The time an cost involved in registering a Strong trademark can be reduced in most cases. In contrast, “weak” trademarks are often descriptive and/or already used by others to describe their goods or services. As a result, weak trademarks are difficult and more costly to protect.

Generally, marks fall into one of four categories: fanciful or arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, or generic. The category of the mark largely determines its strength.

•    Fanciful and arbitrary marks are the strongest because they are the most distinctive. Fanciful marks are invented words with no dictionary or other known meaning. Meanwhile, arbitrary marks are actual words with a known meaning that have no association/relationship with the goods protected. Examples of fanciful marks are EXXON, KODAK, and XEROX.
•    Suggestive marks are also considered strong. They suggest, but do not describe, qualities or a connection to the goods or services. A well-known example is FROOT LOOPs breakfast cereal.
•    Descriptive marks are generally considered weak. As the term suggests, these marks use words or designs to describe the goods and/or services. If the USPTO determines that a mark is “merely descriptive,” then it cannot be registered unless it acquires a distinctive secondary meaning through use in commerce for a significant period of time. Descriptive marks are considered “weak” until they have acquired distinctiveness. Examples include CREAMY for yogurt or WORLD’S BEST BREAD.
•    Generic terms can serve as the basis for a trademark. Because generic words are the common, everyday name for goods and services and everyone has the right to use such terms to refer to their goods and services, they are not protectable.

It is vital to develop a “strong” trademark from the outset. For more information about the potential strength of your trademark, please  you to contact one

How Can I Help?

It is vital to develop a “strong” trademark from the outset to brand and protect your business.  Trademarks are only one aspect of protection, but, because trademarks are your face to customers, they can be extremely important to your success.c

If you, or someone you know, need help on copyrights, patents, trademarks, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +


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