What’s the Difference Between a Trade Mark and Trade Dress

What Exactly is Trade Dress and Should I be Concerned?

Ever wonder the difference between trade dress and a trademark? Check out this interesting description by a lawyer who will explain it all.

Often we hear people talk about trademarking their business but, what exactly is Trade Dress?  “What the heck is that,” you may ask?

Well let’s put it this way, you’re launching a product and while the name of the product is super important but, for your product, it’s much, much more than that.  You’ve spent a lot of time and money on the very actual design of the container your product is going to be sold in.

This is where your Registered Trademark may extend into the actual design of your product.  This quote has been taken directly from the Legal Dictionary website:

“A product’s physical appearance, including its size, shape, color, design, and texture.  In addition to a product’s physical appearance, trade dress may also refer to the manner in which a product is packaged, wrapped, labeled, presented, promoted, or advertised, including the use of distinctive graphics, configurations, and marketing strategies.”

As far as your legal rights to the design of your product the law goes
as far as this:

“Like Trademarks, trade dress is regulated by the law of Unfair Competition. At the federal level, trade dress infringement is governed primarily by the Lanham Trademark Act (15 U.S.C.A. § 1051 et seq.); at the state level, it is governed by similar Intellectual Property statutes and various common-law doctrines. Both state and federal laws prohibit businesses from duplicating, imitating, or appropriating a competitor’s trade dress in order to pass off their merchandise to unwary consumers.”

What is Trade Dress and How will it Affect My Business?

Now we’re not a bunch of Lawyers but, we’ve found a great YouTube video of an actual Lawyer explaining how Trade Dress extends into fashion and articles of clothing; enjoy.

With that said, Trade Dress will transfer over to architecture as well.  For example, think of the “Golden Arches” at McDonald’s and the Best Buy slanted “blue wall.”

Recently one of the team grabbed a video of just this example; it’s only a few seconds and well worth a view.

Thank you for reading our blog and please let us know if you have any questions (again we’re not Lawyers but we’ll try to answer specifics) by posting them below and be sure to check out our other blogs and articles about Trademarking your business.

2 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between a Trade Mark and Trade Dress”

    • That’s absolutely correct. You don’t even need a building like McDonald’s you just need the arches or the blue roof with yellow swoosh like Best Buy. But like we stated in the article this goes beyond just architecture, it extends to shapes of products. You might have heard recently about the battle between Microsoft and apple of some of the phone features, that would be examples of trade dress infringement.

      Can you think of any other examples of trade dress infringement, we’d love to hear it?

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