The Three Distinguishing Marks Of Trademarks

Trademarks have distinguishing marks that make them obviously stand out from others, even be closely associated with a specific product or service. Think of the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Heineken, among other internationally-known brands.


But what distinguishes a trademark from another? There are three marks – color, shape and smell – that make a trademark what it is.


Color Marks

Brands use certain colors to distinguish it from others, and many brands even have colors named after them. For example, Ferrari red is a specific color named after the distinctive red shade used on its cars.

Why use color as a mark? A color claim gives a clear indication of the rights over a specific shade when combined with other marks on a trademark.

Keep in mind that the color claim should be made at the time of the filing of application.

Be sure to state the particulars of the color claim and the colors claimed should correspond with the colors shown on the proposed trademark. The colors can also be referenced to an accepted color identification, such as CYMK or Pantone.

The proposed trademark should also be of a sufficiently high resolution and in JPEG format.


Shape Marks

The shape of the proposed trademark should also be described in detail on the application form. The shape claim statement should include as many details as possible, such as “The trademark consists of a stylized letter P set within a triangular-shaped background. The applicant makes a claim to the letter and shape as an element of the trademark.”

If necessary, several views of the proposed trademark can also be made. These can include a front view, a top view, and/or a side view.


Smell Marks

Only a distinctive smell can be registered as a trademark, a matter that an experienced agent or lawyer can provide professional advice on. But it must be emphasized that a smell isn’t likely to be considered as a distinctive mark for a trademark for goods where these are purchased for their smell. Examples include cosmetics, shampoo, washing powder, teas, and fragrances.

Furthermore, a smell cannot be considered distinctive under trademark laws unless it is recognized as such by consumers as a trademark. The smell shouldn’t be a sales gimmick either.

With modern society being a visual world, the importance of getting the color and shape aspects of a trademark cannot be overemphasized. The applicant should use the search function before submitting the proposed trademark lest it has significant similarities with an existing trademark, a ground for objection.


Keep in mind that there are details in each step that can throw a monkey wrench into a carefully laid-out plan. For this reason, hiring a professional trademark agent will be in the applicant’s best interest, especially in case of high-stakes proposed trademarks. For details of the trademark application, please contact us for free consulation.


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