My clients often ask me to evaluate the strength of their trademarks. While the answer to such a question is never simple because of the many factors that could affect the enforcement of any trademark, we are able to at least predict the general level of protection a mark could receive by determining where the mark falls on the spectrum of distinctiveness.

Spectrum of Distinctiveness

The spectrum of distinctiveness is a simple sliding scale representing how distinct any word, phrase, logo, or other mark is for the type of product or service that the mark represents. The five levels along spectrum (from weakest to strongest) are: generic, descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary, and fanciful.

Distinctiveness Spectrum

By determining where any mark falls along the spectrum, one can make a reasonable approximation of the strength of that mark. The potential strength of a mark increases as one moves from left to right along the spectrum. In the coming days, I will post about each level on the spectrum, discuss how each is categorized, and provide examples.

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