Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Unusual Trademarks

We’ve all seen the familiar trademark symbol, usually at the end of a product or company name, indicating a business’ or person’s exclusive right to use a name, phrase or a logo to sell their product or service. The world famous ‘golden arches’, for example, were trademarked by McDonalds long ago, while Woolworths are the legal rights holders to the slogan ‘the fresh food people’. If another organisation used that phrase to market their company, they’d face legal action from a specialist trademark lawyer like Glenn Duker.

But did you know that trademark opportunities extend far beyond simple words, names and logos? Let’s take a look at some of the more unexpected things you can potentially trademark. 

Colour trademark

If you can put forward a good case that people instinctively associate a particular colour with your brand, you could potentially trademark that colour and preclude other companies from using it in their marketing. Cadburys, for example, has trademarked the shade of purple used in their chocolate packaging - no other company, whether they’re a direct competitor or not, can use that particular shade. (Cadbury’s wanted to trademark the colour purple in general, but were unable to.) Typically though, it’s difficult to register a trademark for a single colour; however registering a combination of colours is generally easier.

Shape trademark

It’s also possible to register a trademark for a shape. The shape has to be distinctive; it has to be three dimensional, and like the aforementioned colour trademark, needs to be easily associated with the particular brand. Well known shapes that have been trademarked include the classic Coca Cola bottle (said to have been modelled on the image of a curvaceous woman) and the triangular packaging of the Toblerone chocolate bar.

Scent trademark

Difficult to register, but possible nevertheless, is the scent trademark. However, an isolated scent by itself cannot be trademarked; it must be used in association with a particular product or service to differentiate it from a competitor’s goods and services. The first instance of a trademarked scent was in the United States in 1990 when a distinctive scent was added to a type of sewing thread.

There are many other different types of trademarks you could try and register, including sounds and movements. For more details read the information on the Australian Government’s website. If you would like to register a trademark with the assistance of a specialist in the area, make an appointment with solicitor Glenn Duker today.

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