The vast majority of questions our firm gets are about protecting business names, logos, and slogans with federal trademark filings. These are a great place to start, but there are many other things a business may want to protect.
Is your business protecting the names of product and service lines?
Two of the most common trademark filings that companies forget to consider are individual product names and individual service names. If you’re a product maker, you may have the name of your company on all of your labels, as well as individual product names on varying items. Those product line names can be very protectable trademarks. The same goes for service providers and the many options they may offer.
Is your business protecting the look and feel of your products or stores?
Trade dress means that you’re protecting the look and feel of your packaging or even the look and feel of a store. Some products have very distinct designs that make them very easy to spot. Starbucks, for example, has a specific ambiance and look when you walk into one of their stores. This is because of trade dress. It’s the look and feel of the restaurant.
Last week, there was a very interesting case filing regarding In-N-Out Burger and Puma. The fast food chain is suing Puma over a violation of its trade dress rights. Puma is selling a shoe that looks a lot like an IN-N-Out Burger restaurant. In the video above, there are pictures that show the similarities between the design on the shoes and characteristics of the California chain. The laces have a palm tree pattern that matches the restaurant’s awnings, the colors are practically identical, and Puma went as far as to call the product the California Drive-Thru Sneaker. In-N-Out sued Puma claiming it was a violation of their trade dress rights, suggesting that consumers would think Puma and In-N-Out likely collaborated to make the shoe. This an example of how important trade dress is to protect companies from having competitors take the look and feel of unique packaging, products, or stores.