The Oxford Dictionary of Marketing defines brand as “A combination of attributes that gives a company, organization, product, service concept, or even individual, a distinctive identity and value relative to its competitor…”
Simply put, businesses invest a lot of time, effort and money into building goodwill in the marketplace based on the reputation and recognition of its goods and services. This becomes the businesses` identity or brand. To protect the tangible valuable of this expression of intellectual creativity (often referred to as intellectual property), business owners chose to register trademarks that represent their brand.
Business owners can register a trade or service mark under different forms and in hundreds of countries all over the world. You can register e.g. a word, a sound, a graphic or 3D design, and even a color. With all these options available it is often difficult decide which type of registration is the most effective to protect your intellectual property.
The most popular registered form of trademark is the word mark. In 2021 the European Union Intellectual Property Organization (EUIPO) reported 197,973 trademark applications. Of those 112,258 of the applications were for word marks (56,7%). The German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) reported 87.600 registration applications. Although there is breakdown as to the different types, the DPMA tends to reflect similar statistical trends as the EUIPO.
So why is the word mark so popular?
Perhaps it`s best to start with a brief explanation of what a word mark is. The EUIPO describes a word mark as “a mark [that]consists exclusively of words or letters, numerals, other standard typographic characters or a combination thereof that can be typed.” In short, a word mark is composed of only of typed characters designed to distinguish the source of goods and services from its competitors.
The most practical of explanations for the popularity of the word mark is that more often than not, a customer´s first association with a product or service is by its name. As such, it makes sense to protect this association.
From a legal standpoint the word mark is popular because it provides a wide array of protection without regard to spelling, font, or color.
Registering the word mark protects (as distinguished from a word/figurative mark) the meaning of the word or words without limitation to a logo or design. It prevents other businesses from using the mark, or any similar variation that could be confused with it. It also can be an effective tool to prevent the use of domain names that may clash with your trademark. A further benefit is that protection of the word mark is not affected by changes to your company logo. Word marks are often timeless and usually live longer than figurative marks or combined word/figurative marks.
Feel free to contact us if you would like advice on a possible (word) trademark application.