You use your trademark to stand out with your products or services. When you register your trademark you can choose from different types of trademarks. For instance, you can choose the name of your company or product, the logo or both. How do you know what to choose? To make it easier to choose, we have set out here what you should take into consideration.
- When you register, you can choose from different types of trademarks.
- There are 10 types. Most frequently, entrepreneurs register their trademark as a word mark, a figurative mark or as a figurative mark with word elements.
- Which one should you choose? That depends on the elements you want to claim protection for.
How do customers recognise your products and services?
When you decide to register your trademark, you come up against the question of what kind of trademark you have. Finding the answer to that can seem difficult, as there are 10 types of trademarks. One thing that helps is to check how customers recognise you and your products or services. Is that through the name of your product or service, or is it as well as/or by your logo? Perhaps you use a distinctive colour, such as ‘KLM’ blue for instance. Or maybe you have unique packaging for your product, like the glass torso for Jean Paul Gaultier perfume.
Whatever makes you and your products and services stand out is where you should start for your trademark protection.
The 3 most frequently occurring types of trademarks
Most entrepreneurs choose for one or a combination of these 3 types of trademarks: a word mark, a (pure) figurative mark or a figurative mark with word elements. Here we explain to you in brief what these terms mean.
Word mark: With a word mark you record the name of your product or service with no particular format or graphic elements. A word mark is a trademark that consists only of words, letters or numbers, such as ‘BOIP' for example.
If your trade name is distinctive, then it is in any case sensible to record it as a word mark.
Figurative mark: With a (pure) figurative mark you record an image without any text as the trademark for your product or service. A (pure) figurative mark features no words, letters or numbers. Consider the Apple logo or the image of the panda for the World Wildlife Fund.
Should you record the distinctive elements of your trademark separately, your logo for instance? If you do, you are in a better position to take action against competitors who use that one specific element alongside other different elements.
Important rule for acceptance
Every type of trademark must be distinctive and cannot be descriptive. This rule is important for your trademark to be approved. If your trademark does not meet these criteria, your trademark can be refused and then you also lose the application fee.
Our 4 steps can help you choose: Start the steps to register
Figurative mark with word elements: This is a combination of an image with text. A good example is Heineken’s red star with the word HEINEKEN underneath.
A figurative mark with word elements is then an image which also includes numbers or letters, a logo plus the name of your brand, for example. Note that with this type of trademark the logo and the name are not protected separately. A figurative mark with word elements protects the brand only as a whole.
With this type of trademark you are in a better position to take action against competitors who come too close for comfort in the overall picture, even if the separate elements are perhaps less similar individually.
Ask yourself how likely it is that a competitor would adopt certain elements of your trademark and, if that happens, how that would affect you. Also, keep an eye on the costs, because you pay for each trademark application separately.
You gain the best protection often by applying for several types of trademarks. You determine yourself, as trademark owner, the extent to which you should do that. If you need advice, have a legal expert in intellectual property (IP) assist you. Find an IP professional through the Benelux Association for Trademark and Design Law.