Trademark Academy

How can I increase distinctiveness of my trademark?

Distinctiveness of a trademark is a key requirement for its successful registration. By definition, a trademark needs to display sufficient distinctiveness to identify the origin and ownership of the products / services.

As a result, descriptive or generic names are not accepted by the intellectual property offices for trademark registration. An example can be made of Napoli Pizza, a term which merely describes the generic product, that being a Napoli-style pizza. Similarly, a trademark Fast Car, cannot be registered in the context of the automobile industry as it merely describes the qualities of the product.

Over time, the enforcement of this requirement by intellectual property offices across the world has become intensified. A minor change in the name of the brand, such as leaving out several characters, is no longer considered to guarantee a distinctive trademark. For instance, trademarks Skills, SKLLS and Skils in the context of educational and training services are not perceived to create a distinctive trademark. The same goes for adding descriptive words to the name of the trademark, e.g. Skills Training, which is again insufficient to guarantee distinctiveness of the trademark.

What NOT TO DO to increase distinctiveness of the trademark?

  • Adding descriptive words to the name of the brand (e.g. company, best, training, agency, etc.)

  • Minor non-significant alterations of the name (e.g. leaving out characters, adding prefixes / suffixes)

What TO DO to increase distinctiveness of the trademark?

  • Adding a distinctive graphical element and registering a logo form of the trademark instead of the word trademark. Even with a descriptive name of the brand, the graphical element can be used to clearly communicate the origin and ownership of the products / services, hence meeting the distinctiveness criterion. Please note, that this form of a trademark protects all of its distinctive elements. As a result, if the name of the brand itself is distinctive, the logo trademark provides effective protection for both visual and text elements, whereas if the name is largely descriptive - only the graphical representation of the brand is protected.

  • Altering the name of the brand itself so that it is not descriptive of the products / services offered under this brand

Frequently asked questions