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How to trademark a phrase

To answer how to trademark a phrase question, you need to start with the consideration of the following factors: 

  1. What is the name of the phrase you are planning to apply for a trademark?

  2. Is there any exact or similar trademark phrase pending application, or registered on the principal or supplemental register? Further, you need to check whether there are any existing state registered trademarks or common law-based trademarks. Registration of this competing trademark phrase on the supplemental register denotes a possibility of descriptiveness of the mark. Descriptiveness is one of the factors indicating lower strength of the mark. They generally have lower strength in the market-place and end up on supplemental register placement. Registration on the principal register denotes that the phrase enjoys the full benefits of registration. These prior registrations can be overcome by cancellation proceedings at USPTO. Opposing party may also try federal court litigation. Consider the cost of litigation before proceeding in this route.

  3. If already registered, then determine whether you can find a different phrase. This alternative phrase should not cause consumer confusion about the source of the phrase? Typically, your trademark attorney needs to conduct a “likelihood of confusion” factor-based analysis. You can find further about the likelihood of confusion at the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure

  4. Usually arbitrary, fanciful, and suggestive marks are highly protected due to their inherently distinctive nature. They are easier to receive a trademark registration on the principal register after clearance of the mark. Whereas in the following decreasing order descriptive and generic marks receive less or no protection.

  5. Descriptive mark registration sometimes may be limited to supplemental register. Some other times they do not receive any protection. Receiving the registration depends on the phrase, your competition and general market use of the phrase. You cannot lock-out the descriptive phrase all for yourself. The reason is the wider members of the industry use the phrase to represent something. “Secondary meaning” may help over-time to convert some phrase from the descriptive nature to the pre-dominant source-identifying function status. Then the mark can be entered into the principal register. It typically depends on the phrase usage in the industry. It is not based on self-declaration of the owner of the mark that the mark achieved such status. By following the above steps regarding how to trademark a phrase, you can start planning about any modifications.

Trademark Phrases Examples

Organizations and individuals typically want to trademark a catch-phrase to identify their products or services. Their main goal is association and identification of that catch-phrase to their brand-related product or service. The following are several examples of them. The first example is a corporation named GEICO Marine Insurance Company, a subsidiary of GEICO insurance corporation.

How to trademark a phrase example - GEICO

The second example is another insurance company named Progressive Casualty Insurance Corporation. It has the following catch-phrase that is identifying the source of its services.

How to trademark a phrase example - Progressive

If you would like to know further, then how to trademark a business name is a good starting point. You can order US trademark registration service by clicking the below button.

US Trademark Registration

Page Author: Bharath Konda, Esq.

 Bharath Konda is a trademark attorney. He has a law license in Minnesota and the District of Columbia. He provides trademark registration services for individuals and businesses. You can check the Bharath Konda attorney profile page at MN state Bar Association. Further, feel free to check the attorney profile on legal information retrieval websites such as Avvo and Justia. Some of the sample trademark attorneys answered questions are on platforms such as Justia ask a lawyer platform and lawyers (dot) com platform.

2 thoughts on “How to trademark a phrase”

  1. I learned more about how to trademark a phrase through this page. Examples are a plus, and easier to understand.

  2. Lance, thanks for your input on this topic. I want to add few more points to my answer about trademarks. Getting a federal trademark for a phrase is key to the marketing campaign of any organization. Without a trademark registration, there is less protection for a trademark phrase. Please check the trademark phrase examples I noted in the above trademark article including Geico and Progressive insurance corporations. Pursue trademark for phrases, whenever you can to get competitive advantage over the competing brands in your niche. The above article about how to trademark a phrase is exhaustive and should give you initial guidance.

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