Can i trademark a generic word [Fact Checked]

Last updated : Aug 6, 2022
Written by : Odis Stockon
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Can i trademark a generic word

Can a generic term be a trademark?

Under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., generic terms may not be registered as trademarks, but terms that are “merely descriptive” of goods or services may be registered if the public has come to understand them as identifying the trademark owner's goods or services.

What words can't be trademarked?

  • Proper names or likenesses without consent from the person.
  • Generic terms, phrases, or the like.
  • Government symbols or insignia.
  • Vulgar or disparaging words or phrases.
  • The likeness of a U.S. President, former or current.
  • Immoral, deceptive, or scandalous words or symbols.
  • Sounds or short motifs.

What if someone has a similar word trademarked?

When someone uses a trademark that is deceptively similar or identical to your trademark, then he/she is liable for trademark infringement under the Act. A trademark is deceptively similar or identical to another trademark if the consumers believe that the trademarked brand/products are the same as your brand/products.

Can common terms be trademarked?

Common words and phrases can be trademarked if the person or company seeking the trademark can demonstrate that the phrase has acquired a distinctive secondary meaning apart from its original meaning. That secondary meaning must be one that identifies the phrase with a particular good or service.

What is an example of a generic trademark?

Generic trademarks are common terms used to name products or services, for example, a brand of shoes called "shoes". Generic trademarks describe a product, so no one can register them as trademarks. These marks don't qualify for any protection.

What happens when a brand name becomes generic?

Genericide is the term used when a brand legally loses its mark by reaching a point where the product name is no longer differentiated and is therefore synonymous with the generic product. Aspirin, escalator and flip phone lost their trademarks due to genericization.

How much does it cost to trademark a word?

The basic cost to trademark a business name ranges from $225 to $600 per trademark class. This is the cost to submit your trademark application to the USPTO. The easiest and least expensive way to register your trademark is online, through the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

What is not protected by trademark?

Generic terms are not protected by trademark because they refer to a general class of products rather than indicating a unique source.

Can I trademark a name already in use but not trademarked?

1. Can You File for a Trademark That Exists? Updated November 12, 2020: If you're wondering, "can you trademark something that already exists," the simple answer is "no." Generally speaking, if somebody has used a trademark before you, you can't register the trademark for yourself.

Can I trademark a name that is similar but not identical to the name of another company?

If a proposed trademark name is similar to an already registered one and could be confusing, the USPTO won't register it. To be that confusing, the trademark names must be identical and must belong in the same services or goods class.

What happens if you use a trademark without permission?

Using a registered trademark without permission from the owner can lead to a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Can you patent a word or phrase?

As previously mentioned, phrases cannot be patented. Patent law protects new inventions, machines, processes, and designs. Patent protection does not apply to phrases or slogans. However, you can protect your phrase by trademarking it with the patent office.

Is generic mark prohibited?

While a generic term cannot become a trademark, a trademark can become generic. Ironically, the more successful the trademark owner, the more likely it is that a trademark will become generic, causing the trademark owner to lose its exclusive right to use and protect the trademark.

What makes a mark generic?

If the primary significance of the mark to the relevant public refers to the class or category of goods (e.g., “apple” for the fruit), then the term is generic.

Is Coke a generic trademark?

Despite Coca-Cola owning the trademark to the name Coke, in some parts of the United States Coke is used as a generic term for any kind of carbonated beverage. It's especially common in the South, while other regions of the country mostly stick with "soda" or "pop."

How long does a trademark last?

A federal trademark lasts 10 years from the date of registration, with 10-year renewal terms. Between the fifth and sixth year after the registration date, the registrant must file an affidavit to state that the mark is still in use.

How can you prevent a trademark from becoming generic?

  1. Use the trade mark as a trade mark.
  2. Create clear brand guidelines.
  3. Use the registered trade mark symbol.
  4. Take action against incorrect use by third parties.
  5. Consider a marketing campaign.

How do I trademark a word?

  1. Consult a trademark attorney. Trademarking a word is a complex process, so talk to a trademark attorney early in your planning.
  2. Check for eligibility.
  3. Register domain names.
  4. Establish ownership.
  5. File an Intent to Use.
  6. File a Trademark Application.
  7. Pay the filing fee.

What are the 3 types of trademarks?

What you'll learn: Arbitrary and Fanciful Trademarks. Suggestive Trademarks. Descriptive Trademarks.

Can I copyright a saying?

Names, titles, short phrases, slogans and sayings cannot be protected with the United States Copyright Office. Copyright protection only extends to original artistic works fixed in a tangible medium such as literature, music and motion pictures.

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Can i trademark a generic word

Comment by Anh Stetz

here's a question from Cora can i trademark a generic word I'm Andre min from the founder of trademark Factory and this is my answer to this question it really depends yes you can trademark a generic word as long as you're not trying to trademark a generic word for the product or the service that this generic word signifies so for example Apple the phone company trademark one of the most generic words in the English language Apple but they were able to do this because they don't sell apples what they do has nothing to do with the fruit so that's why you could trademark a generic word as long as that generic word has nothing to do with your products and services but if they were trying to trademark the word Apple while trying to sell apples that would not have worked that would have been a generic trademark and generic trademarks cannot be registered because the whole point of trademarks is to let people tell your products and services apart from everybody else's so if the brand new came up with does not have the capacity of allowing the market to tell your products and services from everybody else's then you can't use that brand as a trademark that's why you can't have generic trademarks but for again just going back to Apple nobody would think that they're getting an Apple like a real Apple from the phone company or a computer company or software company and that's how they remember that Apple is Apple and not something else so when you're asking can you trademark generic words always clarify is it for the same thing as the word means or not now I hope this answers your question and if it does if you haven't subscribed yet well what are you waiting for you probably have more questions about trademarks and branding and entrepreneurship subscribe now and you're gonna find your answers here any if you want me to answer your question that I haven't answered before and I'll make sure you comment below and I'll shoot a video answer your question until then I'll see you in the next video

Thanks for your comment Anh Stetz, have a nice day.
- Odis Stockon, Staff Member

Comment by Robby

can you use a generic term as a trademark well the supreme court's just ruled on that and i'm going to talk about it over the next four minutes i'm angela langlotz trademark and copyright attorney and i go live here on weekdays to talk trademarks and copyrights so don't forget to smash the like button and subscribe if you'd like more of these videos in your feed so last week i believe it was the supremes ruled that it is perfectly okay to use a generic term plus as a trademark now why why do we not allow generic terms as trademarks well remember that a trademark is a source identifier that means that when i look at that brand i know which company those goods or those services are coming from and trademarks should be distinctive they should identify a source and if you have a generic word like booking for travel booking services that is a generic term so we can't use that because it would prevent other people from fairly describing their goods right so they couldn't say i have a booking site right because then the people who had the booking trademark would get all upset and say well you're infringing our trademark because we have a trademark on booking for booking travel services so you can see why that doesn't work but if you add a dot-com on the end and the consumer sees that dot com the whole term dot com like as a source identifier meaning they know exactly what company is providing or offering those services now you can use it as a trademark it used to be that you you couldn't do that there was a split in the circuits one circuit said yes the patent and trademark office said no so the supreme court said well we're gonna decide and they decided they said look if the consumers view that as a source identifier then it is now a trademark remember trademarks are very consumer focused we want to make sure that consumers are not confused right that consumers understand the relationship between the trademark and the company that's offering the goods and services and that the trademark serves to distinguish those goods and services from other goods and services available in the marketplace so the supreme court said listen this is a this this trademark is there can only be one because there's only one dot-com domain available it is one source right so they reasoned to they said did a survey and consumers identified as a source for travel bookings so therefore can serve as a trademark so that's the new news under certain circumstances and you may have to prove by a survey that consumers view as an actual trademark as an actual source identifier you may have to prove that with a survey but it is possible now the word is official to use a generic term plus for a trademark for your goods or services i'm angela langlotz i'm a trademark and copyright attorney and i go live here again share this video if you think people might find it useful smash the like button and subscribe and you will see me every weekday here talking about trademarks and copyrights you can also find me online at drop any trademark or copyright questions you might have into the comments and i will answer them on a future live video

Thanks Robby your participation is very much appreciated
- Odis Stockon

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