What is a Fanciful trademark?

January 13th, 2012

Welcome to Trademark Law Radio, a top web resource on issues of trademark infringement, trademark licensing, trademark protection, and trademark registration.

This is Brian Hall, a trademark attorney with Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm representing trademark owners throughout the United States.  Today, I will be answering the question: “What is a Fanciful Trademark?”

A fanciful trademark is what’s known as an inherently distinctive mark.  It provides the trademark owner with one of the, if not, strongest kinds of trademarks.  And what a fanciful trademark is is a combination of letters or symbols signifying nothing other than the marks product or service.  Put another way, if not for the product or service to which that fanciful trademark pertains; there could be no possible meaning for that particular mark.  Examples include Exxon, Kodak, and even Google, arguably.

The importance of selecting and using a fanciful trademark is that it is so strong that it provides the trademark owner with the best opportunity should a trademark infringement, cybersquatting, or other trademark related issue arise.  You want to have a strong trademark in those situations in order to enforce your mark against others in hopes of having them cease and desist an unauthorized use or recover damages or even injunctive relief in the event of an infringement, cybersquatting or any other trademark related issue.

Fanciful trademarks, like arbitrary trademarks, are the strongest kinds of trademarks available.  Suggestive trademarks are also strong and fit into the category as what’s known as inherently distinctive marks.  If you are not using an inherently distinctive mark, you’re likely using what’s known as either a generic or a merely descriptive mark.  Those two categories or marks are not strong and are not entitled to all the protections the inherently distinctive marks are.

In particular, the biggest benefit of using a fanciful trademark is it provides you with the exclusive right to use your particular mark in connection with your particular goods or services.  So, in the event someone else is using the same or similar mark in connection with the same or similar goods or services, you would likely be in a strong position to pursue a trademark infringement cause of action against them.

So, when you’re in a position to select a new mark for a particular good or for you particular service, you’d be well served understanding the differences between distinctive marks such as fanciful trademarks and non-distinctive marks such as merely descriptive trademarks.  The determination you make in the selection of your particular mark will have far-reaching implications on both your business and the ability of your trademark to serve as one of your most valuable assets and build goodwill for your actual entity.

So, you would be well served to speak with a trademark lawyer that has experience with selection of trademarks and the subsequent protection of them, be it by enforcing your common law trademark rights or going one step further and ensuring registration of your particular trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or other governmental entity in order to avail yourself of all the super benefits that go along with such a trademark registration.

So, once again, this has been Brian Hall answering your question: “What is a fanciful trademark?”

You’ve been listening to Trademark Law Radio.  Whether you are facing a trademark infringement, licensing, monitoring or trademark registration issue, we have a trademark attorney ready to answer your questions.

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One Response to “What is a Fanciful trademark?”

  1. A fanciful trademark sure sounds like a better type of trademark to try and implement it in your small business or start-up company. Obviously, it is harder to come up with the fanciful trademark. Everyone seems to want to pick a trade name that describes exactly what they do. But these are often the weakest trademarks. Lawyers who understand both trademark protection and branding typically try and help clients pick a fanciful mark that will be known as their company.

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