Types of Trademarks

When it comes to trademarks, there are many types but some enjoy more protection than others. However, the best trademarks are those that are memorable and distinctive.

The best trademarks excel because they make brands stronger, more effective, and protect them from imposters.

During the trademark decision stage, you need to stay away from weak trademarks that only describe the various aspects of goods and services or those that legally cannot be protected.

Therefore, in this article, I’ll take you through the various types of trademarks that are available and why you need to check out the various types of trademarks before you commit.

For the sake of those who don’t know much about trademarks and what they do, let’s start from the beginning.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of all of the above whose purpose is to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services from one brand to another.

It is an exclusive right to use your logo or name as you please. What this means is that you’re the only entity allowed to use the mark.

If you fail to trademark your brand, you’re indirectly permitting third parties to go ahead and use it and there is nothing you can do to make them stop.

Only one entity is allowed to use a trademark.

So, if another entity trademarks your brand before you, they’ll have exclusive rights to use the mark nationally and you’ll have no other option but to rebrand or challenge them in court, which is a lengthy and expensive process.

With that said, let’s look at the 5 types of trademarks in order of best to worst:

  • Coined Term Trademark
  • Arbitrary Trademark
  • Suggestive Trademark
  • Descriptive Trademark
  • Generic Trademark

Let’s begin.

Coined Term Trademark

As far as trademarks go, a coined term, meaning a term that has no dictionary meaning is going to be the best kind of trademark and will be afforded the broadest scope of protection. Trademarks and their rights are largely based on distinctiveness, and coined terms offer the most distinctiveness. Your trademark, your brand must set you apart from your competitors, using a coined term is the best way to do so.

Xerox®, Kodak®, and Google® are strong examples of Coined Term trademarks.

Arbitrary Trademark

These are marks that have dictionary meaning; however, the meaning isn’t related to the service or product being branded.

Examples of such arbitrary trademarks are Amazon® and Apple®; both of which are in the dictionary but have no relevance to internet stores and computers.

These types of trademarks are also considered to be distinctive and enjoy the most protection against infringements by the courts and Trademarks Offices.

Suggestive Trademarks

These types of trademarks focus on the suggestive nature of the product that you want to brand without describing it. In essence, a suggestive mark gives you a hint of how relevant the product is without describing it.

Examples of such marks are Airbus®, Greyhound®, Netflix®, and Jaguar®.

Airbus® is a suggestive representation of airplanes, Netflix® represents streaming services, Greyhound® represents a bus line while Jaguar® is a suggestive representation of fast cars.

Descriptive Trademark

These types of trademarks describe the product or its component, quality, feature, purpose, function, or characteristics that you want to brand.

Descriptive trademarks are fit for trademark protection if you as the business owner can show proof that your audience recognizes your brand and can identify with you.

Examples of descriptive marks that are fit for purpose are Holiday Inn which represents hotel services and Sharp for television sets.

While potentially registerable, Descriptive Marks are not great marks.

Generic Trademark

Generic trademarks don’t usually qualify as a trademark unless it comprises of more specific details. A good example of a generic mark is smartphones, ice cream shops, dog food, social network, and much more.

For instance, when you look at the mark “the ice cream shop”, you’ll see that it is too generic to file for trademark protection. If you file such a phrase for protection, you’ll be indirectly restricting all other businesses that sell ice cream which is why your application will be rejected.

Therefore, you need to ensure that you stay away from generic words that cannot offer trademark protection because they can’t protect you legally.

Why do I need to know the types of trademarks?

Before you file your trademark protection, you must understand the various types and the protection that they offer because if your symbol, word, logo, or phrase is too generic, it may not qualify for legal protection.

Don’t forget that a trademark enables customers to identify your goods or services with ease so there is trademark uniqueness.

It will interest you to know that before trademark regulations gained popularity, there was a lot of confusion and commotion in the marketplace. Consumers could hardly recognize the main provider of goods or services, therefore, making it hard to have loyal customers.

Here’s the deal.

How to choose the best type of trademark for you?

Before filing for your trademark application, make sure you understand the various categories of trademark protection to enable you to choose one that best suits your business.

If you’re not sure of what category is best for you, you can contact the experienced professionals at Trademark Depot (TMD) for a free trademark analysis.


Are you ready to file your trademark application? If yes, you can leverage the expertise of renowned professionals at Trademark Depot (TMD) so that the Trademarks Office doesn’t reject your application.


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