How to Choose a Good Trademark Name
How to Choose a Good Trademark Name
Coming up with a good trademark involves more than just thinking of a clever name that isn’t in use by another business. You need to make sure that your trademark is going to be strong and legally defensible, too. If you don’t, it could be rejected. Selecting a strong trademark that can survive the application process can be tricky. Thankfully, our years of experience mean that we know what works. Our guide on how to choose a good trademark name will show you what you need to consider.
Selecting a Strong Mark
First and foremost, your trademark needs to be easy to identify. Going with something that could be confused with another brand’s property sets you up for rejection but doesn’t stop there. You could find yourself in serious legal trouble if they believe that you’re infringing on their rights, too.
Next, you’ll want to consider the standards of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They break trademarks down into four categories when deciding if they’re strong enough for registration: Generic, Descriptive, Suggestive, and Arbitrary or Fanciful. Weak marks will fall into the Generic or Descriptive groups, while strong marks are suggestive, arbitrary, or fanciful.
You need to be specific when selecting your trademark. Generic marks cover common terms and phrases. Because of this, they are not easily distinguishable and are not allowed by the USPTO. In other words, you can’t trademark the name of the product or service that your business offers. For example, we would be unable to trademark “The Business Law Firm” for FL Patel Law PLLC.
Descriptive marks are the weakest trademarks there are. Their names do little more than describe the product or service in question. Descriptive marks usually fail for the same reason as descriptive marks – because they use common words that have long histories outside of their association with any product or service. While there are a few registered descriptive trademarks, they’re the exception and not the rule. Typically, a business will have to back up a descriptive mark with massive advertising campaigns only available to larger companies.
Suggestive marks are like descriptive marks, but more unique and creative. Instead of directly describing the product or service, they hint at it and let the audience make the connection themselves. It might take a few moments to make the connection, but suggestive marks are easier to register and protect. Greyhound Bus is a good example of a suggestive mark.
Arbitrary and Fanciful
For registration, Arbitrary and Fanciful marks are as strong as they get. Arbitrary marks use common words but are allowed by the USPTO because they are in no way associated with the good or service. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Apple. While the name would be considered generic for a fruit vendor, it becomes arbitrary when connected with a company known for its phones and computers.
Fanciful marks, on the other hand, use made-up words that would be gibberish in any other context. Pepsi is an example of a fanciful mark. It isn’t someone’s name, you won’t find it in any dictionary, and it has nothing to do with cola.
Including a surname or geographical location in your trademark increases its chances for rejection. Acronyms are likely to get kicked back, too. Sure, IBM might have been able to trademark their name, but that’s because they were a massive operation with a large public presence. Superlatives and laudatory phrases should be avoided, too. This includes names like “Best T-Shirts” or “Superior Sunscreen.”
Now that you’ve read our overview on how to choose a good trademark name, are you ready for the next step? Click on over to our page on preparing for the trademark application process so you can get it right the first time.
Looking to start a business or grow your current business? Contact FL Patel Law today by visiting our website or calling 727-279-5037.