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The 5 kinds of trademarks that can be registered

A trademark is a symbol, word, list of words, logo, slogan, or domain name that is legally registered to distinguish a company or product from its competitors.

The job of trademark law is to protect these legally establishes identifiers and to prevent unjust competition.

Five different trademarks can be registered: descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary, fanciful, and generic.


Descriptive trademarks do just that; they describe the marketed company, product, or service. An example would be "QLED" for a Samsung TV or "AWS" for Amazon Web Services. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may initially challenge the registration of a descriptive trademark unless you can show that consumers identify that trademark with only your company, product, or service.


Suggestive trademarks indirectly associate themselves with a product or service. This kind of trademark allows for more imagination by the consumer. Examples include a "Land Rover" motor vehicle or "Netflix" for a streaming video service. "Land Rover" suggests the utility of their product, and "Netflix" suggest a digital medium to watch television shows and movies.


Arbitrary trademarks are whimsical, like almost picking a name for your company or product out of a hat. Examples include "Apple" computers and the "Shell" oil and gas company. These kinds of trademarks have no direct meaning to the company, product, or service, but all have real and identifiable meaning.


Fanciful equals made up. Companies invest these names for their goods and services. Fanciful trademarks are often granted a considerable amount of trademark protection due to their unique nature. Examples include "Polaroid" for polaroid cameras and "Exxon" for Exxon Mobil.


Generic trademarks cannot be protected, as the mark is simply a bland description of the product, company, or service. Examples are "Band-Aid" and "Thermos."

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