July 01, 2014

Trademark Registration Basics: An Overview for General Practitioners

Michael J. Salvatore

Only protectable trademarks are registrable. Trademarks are divided into four categories, with fanciful/arbitrary marks being the strongest (such as Kodak® for cameras or Apple® for computers), followed by suggestive marks (Coppertone® for sunscreen). Descriptive marks are not federally registrable without proof of secondary meaning, or acquired distinctiveness (Sharp® for televisions or surname marks such as McDonald’s®). Generic marks are not protectable due to use as the generic word for certain goods or services (Aspirin).

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