Distinctive Trademarks: Why Does Trademark Distinctiveness Matter to your Brand?

A trademark is a valuable asset that can boost the reputation of a company and influence the purchasing decision of customers. However, most brand owners consider the marketing appeal of a proposed trademark rather than its strength or distinctiveness while developing a brand. Trademark agents in Dubai advise businesses to consider trademark distinctiveness, which determines the level of legal protection a trademark receives. This article explains trademark distinctiveness and why it matters while developing your brand’s identity.

What is Trademark Distinctiveness?

The concept of trademark distinctiveness defines a trademark’s ability to identify and distinguish a product or service. A trademark that lacks the quality of distinctiveness is not eligible for trademark protection in the UAE. Furthermore, the distinctiveness of a trademark can influence its enforceability once brand owners conduct trademark registration in the UAE. The advice of trademark agents in Dubai can be sought to determine the level of distinctiveness of a proposed trademark.

The Spectrum of Trademark Distinctiveness

Not all trademarks are created equal as less distinctive marks are ineligible for protection while strong marks receive greater protection. Depending on the level of distinctiveness there are five categories of trademarks that are listed below from lowest to highest.

1. Generic Trademarks

A generic trademark gets the least degree of protection as it uses a common word for a product or service. For instance, a generic trademark will use the Mattress for mattress brand or the Valet for a car parking service. Generic marks are considered the least distinctive as they can’t identify the source of goods or services. In this respect, generic trademarks are the least eligible for trademark protection in the UAE.

2. Descriptive Trademarks

Descriptive trademarks describe an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose, or use of a good or service. Descriptive trademarks are not automatically distinctive. However, certain descriptive trademarks become eligible for trademark protection when consumers can easily associate them with relevant goods or services.

For instance, ‘Coca-Cola’ is a descriptive mark as it directly describes a cola drink made using ingredients from the coca plant. However, consumers around the world can readily associate the drink with a particular brand of beverage. In this case, the Coca-Cola trademark has acquired distinctiveness.

3. Suggestive Trademarks

A suggestive trademark is eligible for trademark protection in the UAE, even though it is less distinctive compared to fanciful or arbitrary marks. Suggestive trademarks hint at goods or services but the consumers require some imagination to arrive at the meaning of the mark. AIRBUS for aeroplanes and NETFLIX for streaming services are some of the well-known suggestive trademarks.

4. Arbitrary Trademarks

Arbitrary trademarks represent words that have no apparent relation to the relevant goods or services. The meaning of the word doesn’t represent the feature, characteristics or any aspect of the relevant product or services. Well-known arbitrary trademarks are ‘Dove’ for hygiene products and APPLE for electronic products. Arbitrary trademarks are inherently distinctive and are granted higher trademark protection.

5. Fanciful Trademarks

Fanciful trademarks are afforded the highest level of protection as they are inherently distinctive. A fanciful trademark consists of invented or coined phrases or words and is placed at the top end of the distinctiveness spectrum. Well-known fanciful marks include ‘XEROX’, ‘Dubizzle’, “Google’ etc. Consult with trademark agents in Dubai for further details.

How Can A Trademark Applicant Prove Acquired Distinctiveness?

Trademarks that are not inherently distinctive will be granted protection if they have acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning (eg. Coca-Cola). If a trademark is not inherently distinctive, the applicant of the proposed trademark must prove that the mark has turned out to be distinctive in terms of the relevant goods or services in commerce.

In such a situation, the applicants must submit evidence that the trademark is associated with a single source of those goods or services and in the public’s mind. They must prove that the trademark is associated with the source of the goods or services instead of the particular product or service. Trademark agents in Dubai can help brand owners prove the acquired distinctiveness of their marks.

Consult with the Best Trademark Agents in Dubai, UAE

Brand owners aiming for trademark registration in the UAE must ensure that their brand name is distinctive. Selecting an inherently distinctive trademark makes the mark easy to register and enforce. Experienced trademark agents in Dubai such as Jitendra Intellectual Property (JIP) can help the brand owners to ensure their proposed trademarks are protectable.

JIP is a well-known IP firm providing reliable trademark services in Dubai including trademark registration, trademark search, trademark watch, etc. Apart from national trademark registration, we also provide registration under the Madrid Protocol system. Working with JIP’s trademark experts can ensure that a company’s IP rights are secured, protected, and enforced.

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