IP: Piggybacking design patents and trademark rights

When trademarks can’t protect your design, design patents sometimes can

What do the Coca Cola Bottle, Ring Pop candy and the PedEgg foot micro file all have in common? The designs of each were once, or still are, protected by design patents in the U.S. and are also well-known trademarks. Why would a company use two forms of intellectual property protection to protect the same thing? Piggybacking design patent and trademark rights is a clever strategy to obtain strong intellectual property protection for a three-dimensional brand.

Trademark rights exist in nearly anything capable of being represented graphically, and which functions as an identifier of source. This definition includes typical word marks, logos and taglines used with products and services. It is also broad enough to include the shape and appearance of the product itself. Shape and appearance, as well as the way a product is packaged, are often referred to as “trade dress.” Trade dress, like a service or certification mark, is a type of trademark right.

Contributing Author

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Tracy-Gene G. Durkin

Tracy-Gene G. Durkin is a director at the Washington, DC-based intellectual property law firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. With over twenty years of...

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