A lot of people think of marks and slogans with identifying features as the hallmark of trademark. While that might be true to a great extent, these are not the only source identifying features that you may be able to protect for you business. This week, let’s briefly look at trade dress and how it may prove to be an important part of your intellectual property portfolio.
What is trade dress?
In basic terms, trade dress is any aspect of a good that serves as a source identifier. Therefore, a product’s design or packaging could be considered trade dress. There have even been some instances where the stylistic design of a restaurant has been granted trade dress protection.
Limitations on trade dress protection
There are some instances when these features of a product can’t be protected as trade dress. To start, in order for protection to be granted, the feature in question must be distinctive. This distinctiveness can either be inherent, meaning that the feature itself is distinctive in nature, or acquired, meaning that the feature has a secondary meaning that is associated with the product’s maker.
The other limitation deals with functionality. If the feature of the product that is sought to be protected is a necessary part for the product to function, then it’s unlikely that that feature is protectable. This is because granting protection would essentially allow the business who obtains protection to command the market with regard to that product.
Consider seeking help for your trade dress matters
If you want to protect your business as fully as possible, then you need to protect your intellectual property as robustly as possible. This includes addressing every aspect of trade mark and trade dress that applies to your business. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to protect your business interests and/or enforce protected aspects of your business’s intellectual property, then you may want to speak with an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.