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Ornamental Use in Trademarks: What It Is and Why It Matters for Your Brand **Attorney Advertising**

Ever seen a shirt with a massive logo on the front and thought, “That must be trademarked!”? Well, it’s not always that straightforward. In the intricate dance of trademark law, how and where a logo or slogan is used can make a big difference between being a protected trademark and just being, well, decoration. This is what we call “ornamental use,” and it’s a crucial concept for anyone looking to protect their brand.

The Basics of Ornamental Use

Ornamental use refers to how a trademark is used in a decorative manner, like a logo emblazoned across a T-shirt or a slogan stamped on a cap. It’s the equivalent of putting a fancy hood ornament on a car. Sure, it looks great, but it doesn’t tell you who made the car. For a trademark to be protectable, it needs to identify the source of the goods, not just decorate them.

Easy-to-Understand Examples

  • Ornamental: A fashion brand sells T-shirts with a giant phrase like “Live Free” across the front. That’s ornamental.
  • Trademark Use: The same brand places a small “Live Free” logo on the breast pocket and includes the brand name on the clothing tag. That’s trademark use.

How to Ensure Your Trademark is More Than Just Ornamental Across All Products

The key to ensuring your trademark is recognized as a source identifier—and not just decoration—extends to all products. Here are some tips applicable to a variety of goods:

  • Packaging: For products like electronics, toys, or homeware, the packaging can serve as a critical place for trademark display. Place your mark prominently on the product packaging in a way that associates the product with your brand.
  • Instruction Manuals and Warranty Cards: Include your trademark on any instructional materials or warranty cards that come with your product. This can further establish the connection between the mark and the manufacturer or seller of the goods.
  • Product Itself: When possible, engrave, emboss, or imprint your trademark directly on the product. This is common with gadgets, appliances, and tools.
  • Marketing Materials: Use the trademark in your online and offline marketing materials, including websites, brochures, and advertisements. Consistent use helps reinforce the association of the mark with your brand.
  • Point of Sale Displays: If your product is sold in retail stores, ensure that the displays include your trademark, which can help consumers associate the mark with the brand.
  • Trade Shows and Events: Display your trademark prominently at trade shows, exhibitions, and other events where your products are showcased.
  • Online Presence: Use the trademark in a consistent manner across all digital platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and online marketplaces.

Remember, the goal is to use the trademark in a manner that identifies you as the source of the goods. The more consistently and prominently you use the mark across various points where consumers interact with your brand, the stronger your trademark will become.

Getting Help

Remember, when it comes to trademarks, it’s not just about size or visibility. It’s about context and placement. Make sure your logo or slogan pulls double duty: looking good while clearly indicating who’s behind the product. That way, you’ll not only catch eyes but also get the protection you need on the Principal Register. If you have additional questions or need help, we are just a click or phone call away. Go here to schedule an Initial Discovery meeting online or contact us at (888) 666-0062 for assistance.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.