What is a trademark?

The most commonly used trademarks are word marks and logos, but a trademark could also be the shape of, say, the COCA-COLA® bottle or TOBLERONE’s characteristically triangular chocolate.

It is up to you and your imagination how you shape your trademark as long as it is both distinctive and unique and cannot be confused with an existing trademark.

A trademark can contain several elements:

  • One or more words, a name or a sentence
  • A graphic or figurative illustration
  • A three-dimensional brand

Trademark examples

It is possible to protect several distinct characteristics of your company name and product. Here are some examples:

  • Word marks: Letters forming a word or a pronounceable abbreviation such as HUMMEL®, CARLSBERG® and HMV®
  • Figurative marks: Logos – with or without words – such as the famous apple of APPLE® and the four linked rings of AUDI®
  • Product packaging marks: The design and shape of the product packaging such as the hour glass shaped COCA-COLA® bottle
  • Sound marks: A jingle or signature tune such as INTEL®’s five-tone jingle or TIME WARNER ENTERTAINMENT®’s Looney Tunes theme song
  • Colour marks: A certain colour or colour scheme associated with a product or service such as the red soles of CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN®’s pumps or the brown and gold colour scheme associated with UPS® trucks

Requirements for a trademark registration

If you wish to register a name, slogan or logo, you need to comply with the following requirements:

1) Be more than descriptive
When registering a new figurative mark as your company logo, make sure that the mark is not descriptive or looks like a regularly applied symbol such as the arrow for recycling or the shape of a simple geometric figure in the form of a label or price tag.

2) Do not go against legislation or mislead the consumer
It is not possible to register anything that misleads the consumer e.g. a name or slogan for fake jewelry that contains the word ‘gold’. Further, your trademark can only use protected titles such as pharmacist or lawyer, if you have the right to use the title in question.

3) Do not use symbols like escutcheons and flags
Your logo can only contain official state characteristics, if you have obtained permission for it.

To see if you brand name is available, you can search the databases provided by EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).