A trademarked phrase or slogan can be a powerful branding asset that helps to build the reputation and identity of your business and set it apart from others. It should convey a key message that sticks in the mind of consumers and helps them to recognise your brand.
The first step in finding out how to trademark a phrase is determining if it qualifies as a trademark.
Can you trademark a phrase or slogan?
Not all words, phrases or taglines can be trademarked. Popular sayings or generic phrases that are commonly used in your industry may not be approved for registration by the trademark office.
To trademark your slogan, you have to use a combination of words in a unique way that makes your catchphrase or tagline distinctive.
Take a look at the explanations and trademark phrase examples below – these should help you decide the best option to answer your question, “Can I trademark my slogan?”.
Slogans and phrases that are not registrable as word trademarks
The wording or phrase in your slogan will not be registrable as a word mark if:
1. The phrase is trademarked already by a competitor in the same industry.
You should avoid using any phrases that are the same as or similar to an existing trademark or you could end up in legal trouble for potentially infringing an existing trademark.
- Apple took Swatch to court for using the slogan, “Tick different”, as it was so close to their slogan, “Think different”.
- Asda’s use of the slogan, “Be a spec saver at Asda”, was found to infringe the Specsavers trademark.
The Trade Mark Act states that slogans which “describe the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, the time of production of goods or of rendering of services, or other characteristics of goods or services” are not registrable.
The easiest way to understand this is to look at some examples of slogans or phrases which are unlikely to be registrable as trademarks.
2. The slogan describes your product or its qualities
- The hottest pizzas in town
- The wet look that never dries
3. The tagline describes your product’s purpose
- For fresher breath
- Never clean your windscreen again
4. The phrase describes value
- Lowest prices everyday
- Quality you can afford
5. The slogan describes location or time of production
- Made with a secret Scotch recipe
- Autumn harvest
If your trademark includes these elements or resembles any of the slogan examples above, then it may not meet the requirements to be registered.
So what can you do? Don’t worry, there may be ways to get trademark protection for your slogan even if it’s not distinctive. Here are 8 tips to trademark a phrase or slogan and an overview of how to trademark a phrase.