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What is trade dress and how does it impact your company?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2022 | Intellectual Property & Trade Secrets

When you think about intellectual property, you may think of trademarks and copyrights. Many people don’t know about trade dress. This is a type of intellectual property that identifies your company based on specific features of packaging or the product. 

Trade dress can also apply to features like color combinations or specific sales techniques. While it’s possible to register trade dress for your company, you still have some protections even if you don’t register it. If you opt to register it, the requirements are the same as the ones for logos and similar trademarks.

Trade dress can’t impact the functionality

One of the most important things to remember about trade dress is that protection likely won’t be granted if the feature directly impacts functionality. If the functionality of the item in question is directly impacted by the trade dress, it’s probably not possible to have any type of protection for it. 

In some cases, trade dress is a combination of attributes of a product or company. The key point is that the attributes must all be distinctive as a whole. It’s often necessary to look at the competition to determine if what you want to use as trade dress for your company is something that’s the norm already. For example, the creator of a sink faucet system couldn’t try to claim that blue markings for the cold handle and red for the hot handle are trade dress because those are standard in the industry.

Ultimately, you need to take every step possible to protect your company’s intellectual property. Working with someone who can help you to do this is important because they can explain the options. You’ll be able to focus more on running your business while they handle these behind-the-scenes tasks.