Wednesday, 09 November 2011

What is a Fanciful Trademark?

Welcome to Trademark Law Radio, a top web resource on issues of trademark infringement, trademark licensing, trademark protection, and trademark registration.

My name is Brian Hall and I’m a trademark attorney with Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm specializing in the representation of trademark owners throughout the world.  Today, I will be answering the question:  What is a fanciful trademark? 

Before I get into that answer, it is important to look at the spectrum of trademark distinctiveness in which fanciful trademarks fall.  At the lowest end of that spectrum is what’s known as generic trademarks or terms that merely describe a class of products and therefore are not entitled to trademark protection.   Just above generic trademarks are descriptive trademarks, which may or may not be entitled to trademark protection depending on how long they have been used and whether or not the consuming public recognizes them as an identifier source as opposed to merely describing a good or service.  Above descriptive trademarks is what’s known as suggestive trademarks which indirectly allude to some quality of the product and are inherently distinctive and entitled to protection.  But most importantly, the topic of today is fanciful trademarks.  And fanciful trademarks are the strongest trademarks available and entitled to the most protection, and they fall into two categories.


The first category, “coined terms” are terms that really had no meaning before the trademark came about.  The most important and common example is Google.  Before the popular search engine existed, nobody affiliated Google as a word with anything.  However, upon launch of the Google search engine, Google is now one of the strongest trademarks out there. 

The second category for fanciful trademarks are “arbitrary trademarks, “and those are common words that are used in a unique or special way such that the word has no relationship to the product or service.  Blackberry is a good example of an arbitrary trademark.  While everyone knows that Blackberry is a kind of fruit, once it was used in connection with a cellular telephone device, it acquired arbitrary trademark status or fanciful trademark protection. 

It is important to determine what your mark is or what your mark could be if you’re looking to come up with a brand or trademark for your good or service.  An experienced trademark attorney who has reviewed multiple trademark applications, multiple cases that had decided whether or not a mark is descriptive, suggestive or fanciful, and someone with general experience in the trademark arena, will be able to assist you in this regard.  It is important to recognize that while fanciful trademarks are the strongest when it comes to protection, they also need to be protected just as any other mark or they may lose their ability to serve as trademarks. 

Fanciful trademarks are particularly susceptible to becoming what’s known as genericized.  And genericized means that once the consuming public no longer deems your mark to be fanciful but rather something that describes a whole class of goods or services, it would no longer be entitled to protection.  So, if you are the owner of a fanciful trademark, continue to protect it. 

If you’re looking to acquire trademark rights and want to ensure that your trademark would be deemed fanciful, you’d be well-served speaking with a trademark attorneuys.  And ultimately, it is important that you continue to protect your trademark and protect your brand so that the fanciful trademark you worked so hard to acquire doesn’t become genericized. 

Once again, this has been Brian Hall from Traverse Legal, PLC answering your question of what is a fanciful trademark.

You’ve been listening to Trademark Law Radio. Whether you are facing a trademark infringement, licensing, monitoring or trademark registration issue, we have a trademark attorney ready to answer your questions.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What is a Fanciful Trademark? :

Official Trademark Clearinghouse Agent

Trademark Blog Homepage: Trademark Attorney, Lawyer: Trademark Registration & Trademark Infringement

Trademark Infringement: Cease & Desist Letter Help

  • Trademark Threats: 6 Reasons To Take Them Seriously
    Trademark attorney Enrico Schaefer explains what you should do when you receive a trademark cease and desist letter. Listen as he reviews 6 reasons why you should take any trademark threat letter seriously, and what you should do when you receive a cease and desist.
  • How to handle a trademark cease and desist letter?
    Trademark Attorney Brian Hall discusses what you should do when you receive a trademark cease and desist letter. What a trademark threat letter? Why trademark owners send trademark threat letters? What you should do when you receive a trademark infringement threat letter.

How to Trademark A Name?

  • How to Register a Trademark - USPTO
    You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a Federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages ... here is how.
  • Types of U.S. Trademarks - USPTO
    Specific types of trademarks include: Service marks which identify and distinguish the source of a service rather than a product; Certification marks are used by someone other than its owner, to certify quality or other characteristics of such person's goods or services; Collective marks are trademarks or service marks used by the members of a collective group or organization.
  • Definition of a "Trademark"- USPTO
    A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name.
  • How To Copyright and Trademark a Catchphrase!
    Wondering how to trademark a catchphrase? You should also think about how to copyright a catchphrase. Some intellectual property can be protected by both a trademark and copyright registration.


Domain attorney recommended by
© 2011 Traverse Legal, PLC. All Rights Reserved.
Traverse Legal on LinkedInTraverse Legal on FacebookTraverse Legal on Twitter
Events & Conferences:
  • International Trademark Association 2011, San Francisco, California
  • Cyber Law Summit 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Game Developers Conference 2011, San Francisco, California
  • DOMAINfest 2011, Santa Monica, California
Recent Attorney Speaking Engagements:
  • South By Southwest 2010 SXSW Interactive Conference, Austin, Texas
  • West LegalEdcenter Midwestern Law Firm Management, Chicago, Illinois
  • Internet Advertising under Part 255, Altitude Design Summit, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Online Defamation and Reputation Management, News Talk 650 AM, The Cory Kolt Show, Canada Public Radio Saskatewan Canada
  • Alternative Fee Structures, Center for Competitive Management, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • FTC Part 255 Advertising Requirements, Mom 2.0 Conference, Houston, Texas
  • Webmaster Radio, Cybersquatting & Domain Monetization, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Notable Complex Litigation Cases Handled By Our Lawyers:
  • Trademark Infringement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Cybersquatting Law, Trademark Law and Dilution Detroit, Michigan
  • Internet Defamation & Online Libel Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Trade Secret Theft, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Miami, Florida
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Eastern Dist. of Virginia, Alexandria
  • Stolen Domain Name, Orlando, Florida
  • Commercial Litigation, Tampa, Florida
  • Copyright Infringement and Cybersquatting Law, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Mass Tort Litigation, Los Angeles, California
  • Stolen Domain Name, Detroit, Michigan
  • Adwords Keyword Trademark Infringement, Los Angeles, California
  • Trademark Infringement & Unfair Competition, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Non-Compete Agreement and Trade Secret Theft, Detroit, Michigan
  • Mass Tort, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Mass Tort, Tyler, Texas
  • Insurance Indemnity, New York
  • Copyright Infringement, Detroit, Michigan