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What is a Fanciful Trademark?

Fanciful trademarks are made-up words intended for the single purpose of functioning as a trademark. The term used only holds meaning when it is used in relation to the trademark. Many business owners prefer to use fanciful trademarks for their brand since they are original and distinctive.

Fanciful marks are either neologisms or archaic words. Simply put, either the word does not mean anything in the English language, or the word has fallen out of common usage. Well-known examples of fanciful trademarks include Clorox, Polaroid and Pepsi.

Key Takeaways

  • Fanciful trademarks are made-up terms invented solely to function as a trademark.
  • They can be either neologisms or archaic words.
  • Since the word used only holds meaning when used in relation with the mark, fanciful trademarks are regarded as inherently distinctive.

Benefits of Fanciful Trademarks

Fanciful trademarks are a popular choice for those looking to register a trademark, and with good reason. Here are a few of the many advantages of choosing a fanciful trademark:

  • Consumers create a stronger association of the mark with your brand since fanciful trademarks have no meaning when they are not used in connection to the relevant product or service.
  • There is no doubt that fancy trademarks are more distinctive than other trademark types, which makes your mark more powerful and prevents infringement.
  • Due to their originality, using a fanciful trademark can prevent cybersquatting. Cybersquatting occurs if someone registers, uses, or sells a domain name online with the intent of profiting from another person’s trademark. 

Genericizing Fanciful Trademarks

Even the most fanciful trademarks can become generic over time. Often, words that used to be fanciful trademarks become so common that consumers use the terms to describe generic products. In fact, you may not even realize that some terms used to refer to certain products were once considered fanciful trademarks. This often occurs with highly-successful brands that fail to provide consumers with an alternative name for the generic version of the product. For instance, Aspirin has become the common term for medications used to relieve aches and pains, regardless of their brand. However, Aspirin is still considered a trademark for Bayer Pharmaceuticals. 

Some businesses have taken certain measures to prevent their brands from becoming generic. As an example, Johnson & Johnson always puts the words “brand adhesive bandages” on their Band-Aid packaging. This provides consumers with a way to refer to similar products without infringing on the fanciful trademark.

Bottom Line

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, 10.9 million trademark applications were filed in 2018 alone. In an industry where there are so many trademarks already registered, it can be difficult to find an original label for your brand. You can maintain a strong trademark while creating distinctiveness for your brand by using a fanciful trademark. If you are in need of assistance in registering your fanciful trademark, contact one of Attorney At Law’s top intellectual property lawyers.

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