trademark law

Bethany K. Dumas dumasb at UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU
Fri Apr 25 23:33:15 UTC 2003

An important starting point for assessing the <trademarkability> of words
or phrases is the legal continuum of generic, descriptive, suggestive, and
fanciful/arbitrary terms. Terms in general use are often generic. For a
term to be "merely descriptive," it must trigger an almost instantaneous
mental connection on the part of the consumer between the term and the
exact item to which it refers. Such terms generally cannot be protected.

If the use of the term at issue in the relevant context requires use of
the imagination or use of inferential techniques in thinking in order to
arrive at the connection between the term and its referent, then the term
is suggestive, rather than descriptive. Finally, there is the category
fanciful/arbitrary - terms which have no direct relationship to the
referents. Suggestive and fanciful/arbitrary terms may be able to be

(I could write 50-60 more pp. if anyone is interested.)


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