Trademark Law also includes sounds, color combinations, scents, fonts, and the shapes of bottles
Most businesses do not know that Trademark Law can also extend to colors, smells, sounds, the shape of a bottle, font styles, and the interior design of a restaurant. When most businesses think of Trademarks, they think of words like MicrosoftA(R), McDonald'sA(R), and Coca-ColaA(R).
In a nutshell, Trademark Law boils down to protecting anything that can signify or indicate that certain goods or services are coming from a particular person or business. And that "anything" can be the pink color of home insulation, the cool shape of a vodka bottle, or the unique interior look of a taco restaurant. In the first instance you could be sued for trademark infringement by Owens-CorningA(R) if you were to purchase ordinary home insulation, dye it pink, and sell it under your own mark. You could be sued by Taco CabanaA(R) if you were to arrange your own restaurant's interior to look like that of a Taco CabanaA(R) restaurant.
Trademark Law includes colors, so be sure to protect yours, and not infringe your competitors' use of their colors.
And you could also be sued by Absolut VodkaA(R) for selling your own brand of alcohol in a bottle closely resembling the shape and curves of an Absolut VodkaA(R) bottle.
A couple other examples of Federally registered trademarks is the sound of a Harley-DavidsonA(R) motorcycle and the AT&TA(R) ring you hear in their commercials. For some people the sound exploding from the muffler of a Harley-DavidsonA(R) is jarring enough to give some an ear infection, but to others it is a sweet enough sound to merit a gold seal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). And the short and simple rings at the end of an AT&TA(R) commercial supposedly signifies to the public the service provider for the telecommunications giant.
Be careful not to color distinctive shapes of your competitors' products, and try to stand out in the marketplace by using protectible unique shapes.
For these reasons, a business owner who desires to begin branding his or her goods or services should expand their understanding of Trademark law beyond that of just words. By seeing their Business Attorney who may refer a qualified Patent and Trademark Attorney, a business owner may be able to craft an intelligent branding campaign. The business may also be able to navigate the minefield of possible trademark infringement issues of which they might otherwise be aware.
Have a powerful sound you can protect? Register it. (If it makes sense, that is)
A smart branding campaign should probably start with a word mark and be followed with the following: font styles, colors of the letters, logos, catchphrases, a consistent use of 1-2 colors throughout their stores, products or invoices, and perhaps scents, sounds, or trade dress where sensible and appropriate. Of course, every business will have their own special needs and many of these particular types of trademarks may not work or be applicable. However, it does not hurt to at least understand your possibilities from the start. And perhaps, more importantly, how to know where the line is to avoid infringing someone else's mark.
Consult your trademark attorney for details.
In order to make sure you are getting the most from your branding strategy, and whether or not a competitor's trademark may pose a possible conflict with your proposed mark, please consult your business attorney with substantial trademark experience or a USPTO registered Patent Attorney.
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