As industries compete to gain a legal monopoly on their sui generis innovations via marks registrations, we are flooded with the rising number of products with the ™ and the ® marks. But what do these symbols suggest? In this blog, we would discuss various types of trademarks that businesses can opt for.

It is crucial to differentiate among various types of trademarks to ascertain the apt and suitable protection for a product. Failing to do so would lead to lawsuits and legal entanglement, and dismissal of your trademark registration; in both cases, loss of revenue is inevitable. Hence, taking consultation from experts in this matter is a wise investment.

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The trademark symbol the ™ and its iteration the ® owe their commonness to household names. Each brand, especially multinational corporations, affix their trademarks on all customer’s products and services available in the market. That is why it is prudent to deduce that marks have reached as far as global coverage of brands.Product trademarks are widely classified into five categories. Marks could either be descriptive, generic, fanciful, suggestive, or arbitrary. Further, the fourth schedule of Trademarks Rule 2002 categorizes trademarks generally based on the product’s nature relative to the mark under consideration. These are classification of goods and services under 45 different classes.

Although, only a few people know and identify the exact purpose of the trademark. The uptrend combines trademark’s established familiarity, if not the prominence, in our consciousness as we see trademark everywhere, but there is the difference between knowing and seeing. 

Classifying one from the various types of trademarks for product aids in clarifying which type to use for various cases. It helps to avoid mistakes. Apart from preventing potential economic losses, the stratification also shows the corresponding level of protection. 

Here are the five types of trademarks for products

Generic marks

It represents the regular descriptions of a product or its seller. It could be common words such as food or watch or drink. But since these words belong to the public, a restaurant, for example, is not allowed to register a trademark for the term restaurant. And rightfully so, as it would turn into an unfair monopoly over the whole food business industry. Every other establishment can potentially be kicked out of business. Thus, a company should add another modifier exclusive to its products for it to qualify for a generic mark. 

Suggestive mark

The marks mentioned above are broad, more specific, and hence more protective; trademarks need a proportionate level of cleverness to qualify. Suggestive marks register words that suggest qualities of the product without automatically relating to it in a literal sense. Imagination from the consumer’s end is a fundamental consideration in classifying a mark as suggestive. An example could be Netflix, as it suggests to its service line without directly mentioning that it is an online streaming platform.

Descriptive mark

Descriptive mark is actually a mark which describes some characteristics of the goods/ services The descriptive component could be kind, quality, quantity etc. Since these words are considered part of universal language, they are still non-registrable. Nonetheless, adding a signifier to explain the significant quality of the product could qualify it for trademark protection.

Arbitrary mark

An arbitrary mark pulls phrases or words from the vernacular. Nonetheless, these words have to be wholly unrelated to the products they signify. The concern would be the increased cost of advertisement strategies. Efforts have to be focused on acculturating the audience with the new semantic association. Nevertheless, this must not dishearten, as success would mean considerable returns. For instance, Apple, a brand named after some fruit. It sells electronic products as luxury devices and inedible goods. The success of Apple is attributable to synergy between marketing and careful IP management. 

Not sure what can be trademarked and what cannot?
Read on to know the marks that you can register as a trademark in India.

Fanciful mark

It is easiest to register. It only needs a new word that does not presently hold any meaning to the general public. Although easier to submit, fanciful marks need informed forethought as well. The company must carefully inspect how the audience would receive the brand. It is best to have diligent research on whether it would be easy to remember, pronounce, and spell. Brands would most likely want their trade to gain positive attributions, so companies must also consider their fanciful mark’s cultural overtones.

Conclusion: Make your mark

To sum up, the symbol the ™ and the ® hold more complex meanings beyond being mere emblems affixed to brands. They safeguard both customers and businesses from any offense via strict rules on proscribed actions. For entrepreneurs, both established and emerging, knowing the criteria and the level of protection involved in each type would prove essential in optimizing your IP portfolio.