Types of trademarks included in the trademark definition
As a business owner, you probably know that you can trademark your business name, brand name, logo, slogans or tagline phrases. You can easily apply to register these trademarks yourself using Trademark Planet’s 3-step process. But what else does the definition of trademark cover?
The Trade Marks Act 1994 answers the question, “What is a trademark?” by providing the legal definition of a trademark in the UK. In simple terms, it’s any sign or symbol which distinguishes the goods and services of one business from another. However, it also includes less well-known types of trademarks:
“A trade mark may, in particular, consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals, colours, sounds or the shape of goods or their packaging.”
As you can see, a trademark can be almost anything that enables consumers to identify your brand.
Word or brand name trademarks
Trademark registrations for word trademarks are very powerful business assets as they provide protection for your name or phrase in any font, colour or size.
Many companies register a number of word trademarks to protect different branding elements, eg: company names, product names and slogans.
For example, the Jaguar Land Rover company has trademark registrations as word marks for their business name, their brand name, specific product names and the Land Rover slogan:
|Jaguar Land Rover||Land Rover||Land Rover Defender||Above and Beyond|
Many businesses underestimate the power of a catchy slogan to make their brands unforgettable and don’t realise these can be registered as trademarks. Here are 8 tips to trademark a phrase or slogan.
Logos or images
A logo trademark registration can protect a stylised word, an image or a combination of a word and image.
In contrast with a word mark which protects a name in any format, a logo trademark protects the specific visual elements of the trademark.
Lots of iconic brands use logos effectively as symbols so that their customers can easily identify their products or services. Consider these well-known logos:
For the best possible protection, you should register both your word mark/s and your logo.
Trademarked shapes and packaging
Businesses can register 3D shapes for products or packaging provided that they are distinctive symbols in their own right. Here are some examples of 3D shape trademarks in the UK:
- The shapes of the bottles for Coca-Cola, Toilet Duck, Kikkoman sauce, Nutella, and Nescafé instant coffee are registered as 3D trademarks.
- Toblerone has trademarked the shape of their chocolate packaging.
- Land Rover has 3D trademarks for the shapes of vehicles and wheel rims.
Colour trademarks can be challenging to obtain. The brand owner must show that over time consumers have come to associate a particular colour or combination of colours as an integral identifying element of their brand.
However, you might be surprised to see how many of the colours of brands you know and recognise are actually trademarked. Here are some examples of UK colour trademarks.
(photo credit: dailymail.co.uk)
Sounds can also be registered as trademarks, provided they are distinctive and act as a brand identifier. A number of businesses have registered sound trademarks for musical jingles and ringtones. For example, British Telecommunications has trademarked the three staccato B notes that make its beep sound.
An unusual example is the trademarked sound of a barking dog that Akzo Nobel Coatings has registered for paints and lacquers.
With advances in digital technology and platforms, the UK recently amended trademark legislation to allow for moving trademarks and multimedia. This allows animations and holograms to be registered as trademarks.
The first multimedia moving trademark was granted to Toshiba and consists of a short clip of the Toshiba logo surrounded by origami-style folding coloured triangles. Click here to view the Toshiba motion trademark.
Yell has a trademark for an animated sequence depicting a square dot with rounded corners on the letters Y, E, L, and L and various other companies have registered trademarks for animations for products such as air fresheners.
Trademark registrations for scents are very uncommon, although this somewhat quirky trend appears to be growing overseas. Here some examples from the USA:
- Bubble-gum scent for sandals
- The smell of piña colada applied to ukuleles
- Strawberry scent for a brand of toothbrushes
- Three fruity flavours of combustion engine lubricants
Registering non-traditional trademarks like shapes, colour and sounds is a complex process. If you’re interested in these types of trademarks you should contact us and we’ll help you get professional assistance.
For brand names, logos and slogans, you can apply for your trademark yourself using our easy 3-step online trademark application process.