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Commercial Litigation Woods Lonergan LLP

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Trade Dress

Picture a Coke bottle. Or an IHOP restaurant. You can see it can’t you?

Those are but two, powerful, examples of trade dress in the U.S, which is a legal term that deals with how a product or a package looks – it’s even been shown to cover the design of certain unique buildings.

It falls into the same realm as trademarks in that it denotes a reputation and a certain standard of quality but it is something that many consider to be separate from trademarks and we think you should think of it separately as well.

The reason why is because your trade dress is important enough to be carefully considered on its own.

By registering your trade dress, you put everyone on notice that you claim that look as your own. Additionally, if no one counterclaims after five year, you get what’s call incontestable status, which essentially prohibits most ways of your competitors to challenge your rights in your trade dress. Like trademarks, you can get legal protection without registering your trade dress but to do so may end up a very costly mistake.

Trade dress actually overlaps with copyright more than it does trademarks and each has it’s own pros and cons.

If you have distinctive packaging, appearance or design, seriously consider protecting your trade dress along with your other intellectual property.  These are assets that you can and should mine to give your business that competitive edge.

Let us show you how.