Trademark – An easily recognisable symbol, phrase, word or logo that denotes a specific product and is the intellectual property of an individual or company
To remember what trademark means use the following mnemonic:
The trader at the market (trademark) sold fake goods that copied the easily recognisable symbols, phrases and logos of other companies.
Trademarks are vital for businesses, they help consumers distinguish between brands and products and are also key in marketing efforts. A trademarked slogan can succinctly sum up a brand’s message and identity, such as Nike’s slogan “Just Do It”. Trademarks are identified by both ® and ™ symbols and must be registered with a government authority to legally establish them as intellectual property.
An example of an iconic trademark that has contributed to the success of a company is McDonalds’ famous golden arches.
Introduced in 1962, this trademarked logo has featured prominently on the vast majority of marketing materials ever since. The use of large golden arches next to restaurants indicates the location of a McDonalds and can be seen from a distance, helping to attract more customers.
There is, however, a limit to what an individual or business can trademark. For example, in 2015 Google attempted to trademark the word “glass” before launching the Google Glass smart glasses. Unsurprisingly, the US patent and trademark office deemed the word glass to be too generic and could easily be confused, so denied the trademark application. Similarly, Disney attempted to trademark the phrase “dia de los Muertos”, or “day of the dead” in 2013. This was declined and met with huge backlash due to the fact that it is a traditional holiday celebrated in Mexico and across Latin America. This is a cautionary tale about the necessity of companies to be realistic and respectful of culture when filing for trademarks.
Here are some more trademarks:
Each of these trademarked logos is instantly recognisable worldwide and represents a standard of quality. This is why they are very closely protected by their respective companies. It is not uncommon for others to copy designs in order to trade off the brand recognition that the original company has built up.