Can I Trademark a Generic Word?
You will never be able to trademark a generic word that merely describes the products or services you are selling. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will immediately reject any applications that are too generic. After all, trademarks are designed to identify one seller’s products and services from their competitors, and if you try to use just “pants” for the pants you are selling, such a mark would not differentiate your pants from those of your competition.
In trademark law, there is a spectrum for what qualifies for trademark protection and what does not. On the one end, a word or phrase that is completely unique or made-up is the most likely to qualify for protection. On the other end, a word that is generic or merely descriptive for the product or service being sold will not qualify for protection. Somewhere in between is a category for common words used for objects you would not expect them to be used for. “Apple” for computers is the most famous example of this, as they’ve used a word that would not be trademarkable were they a produce company, but because the word apple has nothing to do with computers, it qualifies for trademark protection for computers and other electronics products.
If you own a business and are concerned your business name may be too generic to be trademarked, contact us today to speak with trademark attorney Eric Norton to discuss the likelihood of trademarking your business or brand name, and whether your chosen branding is too generic or descriptive.