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Five Classic Examples of Trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these that identifies your goods or services.”  A trademark is how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors.

There are many different types of marks that can function as a trademark.  It could be a word, slogan, design, or a combination of these.  Less common types of marks such as sound, scent or color can also function as a trademark. To better understand the different types of trademarks, I have compiled a list of five classic examples of trademarks.

Trademark Examples

1. Words

Coca-Cola is a perfect example of a word that is a trademark.  Coca-Cola® is a famous trademark for, among other things, soft drinks. This mark is registered in standard character form and is not limited to a particular font style, size, or color.  Applying for a word mark in standard character form provides the broadest protection as you are getting protection for the words themselves, regardless of how they’re displayed.   Other examples of standard character format word marks are “Under Armour®”, “Twitter®” and “Just do it®”.

2. Logo/Special Form

McDonald’s golden arches is a classic example of a logo trademark.  The golden arches can be seen on interstate highways to alert customers when there is a McDonalds located at the next exit.  There is no mention of the word McDonalds on these golden arches because their customers have come to know that a golden arch represents McDonalds.  Other well-known logos are the Nike “swoosh”.  As with McDonald’s golden arches, the word Nike is not needed to identify Nike’s goods.

3. Slogans

A slogan is eligible for trademark protection so long as the slogan is inherently distinctive or creative.  For instance, American Express’ slogan “Don’t Leave Home Without It” acquired secondary meaning in the eyes of the public and was entitled to trademark protection for credit card services.  Other examples of slogans entitled to trademark protection are Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef?” and “Got Milk?”.

4. Fictional Characters

A classic example of a fictional character eligible for trademark is Geico’s talking gecko.   So long as the character functions as a source indicator of your goods or services, the character is eligible for trademark protection.  Other examples of fictional characters entitled to trademark protection are “Mickey Mouse”, the shapes of the Lego figures and Nintendo characters.

5. Sound, Color and Smell

Other less common forms of trademarks are sound, color and smell.  Examples of sound functioning as a trademark are the NBC iconic chimes.  The NBC chimes became the first sound granted trademark protection.  Color can also serve as a trademark so long as it does not serve a purely decorative or utilitarian purpose and it serves as a source identifier.  Owens Corning’s “pink” insulation and Tiffany’s “blue” boxes are examples of color serving as a trademark.  Like color, smell can also be a protected trademark.  So long as the scent is not functional but distinctive to the product, it is protectable.  Examples of scent serving as a trademark is Play-Doh and plumeria scent for sewing thread.

All of the above categories of trademarks demonstrate how words, logos, characters, sounds, colors and smells can be used to distinguish a business from competitors.  It is important that businesses can trademark these distinguishing marks.  Trademarks serve as source identifiers and allows customers to easily distinguish products from various providers.

Widerman Malek Trademark Law Services

If you have trademark needs, we would be happy to assist you. We handle clients from all over the U.S. and the world. Please do not hesitate to contact attorney Mark Warzecha or a member of our Intellectual Property team if you have questions or would like our assistance.