The best trademark examples are some of the most recognizable brands in the world. Trademark examples include:
- Google and
There are also many different types of trademarks including service marks, trade dress and strong trademarks like fanciful trademarks and weak trademarks such as descriptive trademarks.
What is a Trademark
In reality, there are many other identifiers that can also qualify for trademark protection. Companies have previously gained federal protection over colors and even sounds. The main requirement to qualify as a trademark is distinguishing products and services from others and avoiding a likelihood of confusion.
These are just a few non-word trademark examples that meet this standard:
- The Verified seal used by the Non-GMO Project®.
- The magenta color as used in T-Mobile® branding.
- Peacock logo and 3-tone chimes used by
A service mark is the same thing as a trademark. When the term service mark is used it is merely being more specific to reference that the trademark is used in relation to services rather than goods. If a company doesn’t sell any goods and only offers services –as is the case with landscaping, airline flights and masseuses – then any brand identifier used by the company may be referred to as a service mark.
This type of trademark is also utilized by some companies that sell physical goods. Wal-Mart®, for instance, would qualify as a service mark since it provides retail services. Most of the goods it sells are not its own, but its Great Value® brand would constitute a traditional trademark. The following are trademark examples of brands that offer services:
- Delta® (flight services).
- McDonald’s® (restaurant services).
- Geek Squad® (computer repair services).
- “Fly the Friendly Skies®” (slogan for United Airlines® flight services).
- Starbucks® (slogan for retail coffee services).
The attributes or design of a product’s packaging may qualify as trade dress. This is fully protectable as a trademarked property. To qualify for this protection, though, the design must be distinctive and serve no functional purpose so it must be ornamental only. Any aspect that serves a functional role could possibly be protected via patent registration.
The design of a building, shapes, patterns and even the color of packaging may be regarded as trade dress. Here are a few popular trade dress trademark examples:
- The unique shape of a Coca-Cola®
- Lines running down the side of K-Swiss® shoes.
- Curved stitching on Levi Strauss® jean pockets.
- Red soles on Christian Louboutin’s® high heels.
- Tartan plaid design used on Burberry® clothing.
For trade dress to receive federal protection, consumers must associate the aspects of design with a particular company, product or service. For more information see our trade dress page.
Strength of Trademarks
Typically considered the strongest form of protection a brand can achieve, fanciful trademarks are completely unique. This means the verbiage representing a product or service was created solely to be used as a particular brand. This makes it difficult for any infringer to claim accidental trademark infringement.
These are some of the most popular fanciful trademark examples:
- KODAK® (photographic products/services).
- Exxon® (oil and gasoline).
- Pepsi® (soft drinks).
- Clorox® (bleach and cleaning supplies).
For more information see our fanciful trademark page.
The next highest level of protection a brand identifier can obtain is an arbitrary trademark. These are words or phrases that are completely unrelated to the products or services they represent. Since consumers wouldn’t typically link the verbiage to the product/service type it’s representing, it’s considered inherently distinctive.
The following are some of the most popular arbitrary trademark examples:
- Virgin® (cell phone services).
- Shell® (gasoline).
- Coach® (luxury handbags).
- Sun® (computer manufacturer, now defunct).
- Lotus® (software creator, now defunct).
- Camel® (tobacco).
- Apple® (computers).
None of these word trademark examples are in any way linked to the products or services the brand provides. For more information see our arbitrary trademark page.
Along with their fanciful and arbitrary counterparts, suggestive trademarks are also considered inherently distinctive. This is because consumers need to use their imaginations to link the word directly to a specific brand. These identifiers suggest a quality or aspect of the product/service without plainly describing it.
Suggestive trademark examples include:
- KitchenAid® (suggests aid in the kitchen).
- Citibank® (suggests financial services).
- Netflix® (suggestive of movies on the internet).
- Microsoft® (suggestive of software).
- Airbus® (suggests air travel).
For more information see our suggestive trademark page.
When a brand identifier describes an aspect of a product or service, it is considered descriptive. These trademarks are more difficult to register with the USPTO. Their use may not immediately differentiate two brands within the same industry since the trademark is less disntinctive.
While this form of trademark is not the strongest, many well-known companies have achieved acquired distinctiveness in the minds of consumers. The following are descriptive trademark examples.
- Coca-Cola® (ingredients come from coca leaves).
- American Airlines® (an American company that provides flight services).
- Western Digital® (sells tech products with headquarters in California).
- Power Computing® (provided MAC computer clones).
- International Business Machines® (international seller of computers).
Business owners aren’t barred from trademark registration simply because a portion of their trademark is merely descriptive. By submitting a trademark disclaimer they can notify third parties that they are making no claim of ownership over the descriptive aspect of the trademark.
It wouldn’t be fair to register generic words as trademarks since other brands within the industry would be precluded from using generic product names. Levi Strauss®, for instance, might have trouble with marketing if Wrangler® owned a trademark for the term “blue jeans.” Here are a few potentially identifying trademark examples that would qualify as generic:
- Sports utility vehicles.
- Office supplies.
- Cell phones.
Strong trademarks that become utilized to identify entire categories of products or services may become genericized over time. This happened with escalators, yo-yos, aspirin and trampolines. This is a danger of cornering a particular market and failing to fight against generic use. For more information see our generic trademark page.
Trade names are typically utilized by companies that manufacture a variety of different products that are all represented by different trademarks. A trade name doesn’t necessarily have the protections provided by federal registration. They are meant to identify a company as a whole rather than any of the products or services it provides. Trade names are typically acquired through either business incorporation or the filing of a “Doing Business As” (DBA) form. While taking these actions will help establish your company as an entity, it won’t provide any trademark rights. Instead, to establish trademark rights a trademark application should be filed.
Here are a few trade name examples:
- Procter and Gamble (produces Vicks®, Oral-B® and Charmin® products).
- Church & Dwight (owns trademarks over OxiClean®, Orajel® and Nair®).
- McDonald’s Corporation (does business as McDonald’s®).
- Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. (produces Lexus and Toyota automobiles).
As evidenced in the above instances, a trade name can also serve as a trademark. In fact, it’s ideal for every company to seek federal protection over its corporation, LLC or DBA name.
Unlike traditional trademark examples, certification marks are utilized on products and services that likely have no brand connection to the owner whatsoever. The featuring of this verbiage simply means that the certifying association or organization (i.e. the owner of the certification mark) has approved the product or service as meeting its standards.
These words are typically trademarked by the organization that issues them, but the organization isn’t permitted to use the identifiers themselves. Instead, they license the mark to be used by those who meet their qualifications. Here are a few well-known certification trademark examples:
- Washington Apples (issued by Washington Apple Commission).
- The Cotton logo (issued by Cotton Incorporated).
- Fair Trade (issued by Fair Trade USA).
- Certified Organic (issued by National Organic Program).
- Non-GMO Verified (issued by the Non-GMO Project).
Certification marks can be used to indicate quality, accuracy, mode of manufacture, geographical origin and a variety of other attributes. Using certifying verbiage or designs without having met the issuing organization’s standards will typically constitute fraud.
Rather than indicating that a product or service meets certain qualifications, collective marks showcase that their users are part of an association, union or organization. This type of trademark reassures consumers that a person or brand has met the requirements for membership with the issuing body. The trademark can be used by the group members to identify their products and services as well.
The following are collective trademark examples:
- CPA® (used by members of the Society of Certified Public Accountants).
- CA® (members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants).
- AAA® (used by members of the American Automobile Association).
- FTD® (Florists Transworld Delivery use this certification mark).
- “ The Perfect Protein®” (trademarked collective mark used by National Turkey Federation).
- SMaRT® (utilized by members of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy).
Unlike certification marks, collective marks can be used by the organization itself to identify products and services.
For further questions regarding trademark examples, please feel free to contact us.