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Volume XI, Number 205

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EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Intellectual Property — Descriptive v. Distinctive: How to Brand Your Business and Products [Podcast]

In this episode of the EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS: Intellectual Property podcast, patent attorney Lily Zhang talks with trademark attorney Karen Won about the age-old choice between adopting descriptive brands or distinctive brands for businesses and products. As Karen tells us, trademark law is more art than science. Why is it that “bagel thins” can eventually become a trademark, but "pretzel crisps” can never be a trademark? Great question! The answer lies in trademark law's five categories into which all brand names can be sorted, each of which comes with different levels of legal protection and enforceability:

  • Fanciful: Very broad, strong rights – completely invented

  • Arbitrary: Broad, strong rights – an existing word that has no relation to the use

  • Suggestive: Usually broad, strong rights – alludes to something about the product you are offering without spelling it out, but the boundary line with a descriptive mark is tricky

  • Descriptive: No initial protection – immediately conveys information about your product, business, or both

  • Generic: No protection ever

Listen to learn more about what these categories mean for you and best practice tips for naming your next product or business.

 

©1994-2021 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 168
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About this Author

Lily Zhang Intellectual Property Attorney Mintz Levin
Associate

Lily’s practice is dedicated to intellectual property, with an emphasis on patent preparation and prosecution and providing clients with strategic insights in portfolio management. She also provides technical support to the patent litigation team.  She has experience in a broad range of technical areas, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, 3G and 4G wireless technologies, databases, battery composition and production, network hardware and software, cyber security and cryptography, electronic payment systems, bioinformatics, robotics, optics, 3D printing and laser...

858.314.1577
Karen K. Won IP Lawyer Mintz

Karen is an intellectual property attorney with comprehensive experience across all aspects of branding, including trademark counseling, prosecution, disputes, and transactions. Drawing from her broad-spectrum experience, Karen provides business-friendly advice that guides clients to take smart risks. She works with many clients in the life sciences industry, particularly in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices. Her clients also range across the broader technology sector including e-commerce, mobile apps, and SaaS. She has advised clients ranging from...

212.692.6704
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