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What names can be registered as trademarks? A handful of the most essential tips

Author: Nina Jankowska, Polish and European Trade Mark and Design Attorney

The process of choosing the name for one?s brand does not seem to be easy. The market of today is full of thousands of products and it is becoming more and more difficult to invent an original designation which could be easily distinguished from other names, and it would be catchy and quickly remembered by consumers. Apart from this, there is yet another issue to be checked: namely, whether an identical or similar name has already not been applier or registered on behalf of another party. To put it simply, the Applicants must also make sure if they are not infringing someone else?s prior rights, and automatically do not put themselves to the risk of generating unwanted legal costs.

 

What requirements must a name or logo fulfill in order to obtain registration?

Obtaining legal protection for a name or logo is possible through registration as a trademark. However, not every name and logo is suitable for registration. The Patent Office will register a trademark on condition that it fulfills the absolute and relative grounds of registration.

First and foremost, a trademark should be capable of being distinguished from other signs which are already used and registered, so that a consumer can distinguish the name and logo of one entrepreneur from those of others.

As regards the absolute grounds of registration, it is required that a trademark does not indicate directly the goods designated with the mark, or the services for advertising which it is used. In other words, a trademark shall not be descriptive in relation to the goods or services, for which it is intended.

For example, if one tried to register the word ?laptop? as a trademark for ?laptops or computers?, it would be denied registration as being descriptive and devoid of distinctive character. Another analogous example would be an application for registration of a trademark being the phrase ?The Best Apples? for apples or other fruit. Such mark, just as in the previous case, would be denied registration by the Patent Office.

A name applied for registration cannot also be composed of the elements which have already entered into common language, or are customarily used in fair and established trading practices.

What is also essential, one cannot create a trademark which is contrary to good morals, it offends religious beliefs, patriotic feelings, or national tradition…

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