Trademarks are a form of intellectual property used to identify the source of goods or services. A trademark is a distinctive sign, symbol or other indicator used by an individual or corporate entity to identify itself as the source of a consumer product and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities. A trademark can only be valid if it is distinctive. A mark is distinctive if it is capable of identifying the source of goods or services to the public. The distinctiveness of a mark can generally be categorized into one of five categories from most to least distinctive.
For a great description of the Trademark process at the USPTO, visit:
- Fanciful Marks: Fanciful marks are devices which have been created solely to function as trademarks and have no other meaning other than acting as a mark.
- Arbitrary Marks: An arbitrary mark uses a device having a common meaning which has no relation to the products being sold.
- APPLE (computers)
- LOTUS (automobiles)
- SUN (computers)
- Suggestive Marks: Suggestive marks are those that suggest a quality or characteristic of the products being sold. Suggestive marks are not as strong as fanciful or arbitrary marks.
- SILCONE GRAPHICS
- Descriptive Marks: Descriptive trademarks are devices which merely describe the goods or services on which the mark is used. Descriptive marks are not valid trademarks at all unless they develop "secondary meaning" with customers.
- INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES