Intellectual Property:

Things that Can be Trademarks

There are a variety of things you can trademark. The word trademark may bring the Nike swoosh to your mind, but more than just logos can be trademarked. A trademark includes any word, symbol, name, device or combination. A trademark can also be a phrase or sound. Trademarked things must be used in commerce to distinguish and identify goods or services from others. If you grew apples and sold them, you certainly could not distinguish your apples from the supermarkets so you couldn’t get a trademark. However, if you marketed a computer and called it Apple, you could receive a trademark because the commonly used word is applied to an area where it commonly is not.

Things that cannot be trademarked include:

  • Generic terms
  • Marks that are confusingly similar to existing trademarks
  • Most marks which are not inherently distinctive
  • Abandoned trademarks

Furthermore, while packaging and product design can be protected with a trade dress, functional elements of the design or packaging cannot be trademarked.