Can you trademark a product feature, component or ingredient?
Ever notice the packaging of a product touting a beneficial feature or some new technology? Perhaps, the product contains a special ingredient or component that is given a unique name. Can you trademark the name of a product feature? Yes, it is possible to register a trademark for a feature, component or ingredient. Be careful though. One critical error might jeopardize the entire trademark application.
Product Name vs. Feature Name: Be Precise About Your Trademark
To trademark the name of a feature, you have to be very precise in identifying the component or feature as opposed to the finished product. In particular, you need to make a clear distinction between the component and the overall product. Specifically, the requirements for trademarking a component or ingredient include:
- precisely identifying the common name of the component or ingredient;
- indicating that the component or ingredient is sold as part of a finished product;
- setting forth the common name of the finished product that contains the component or ingredient.
What specimens would be acceptable for product features?
Except for a few special cases, most US trademark applications require the applicant to show usage of the applied-for mark by submitting specimens of use. The specimens must clearly display the mark and the goods covered in the application.
When it comes to trademarking features of a product, the USPTO trademark examining attorney will examine the specimens to see if the mark is actually identifying the feature as opposed to the product.
Will the trademark examiner let you amend your goods?
Suppose you wish to trademark the name of a product feature, but you identified the finished product. Will the USPTO examining attorney allow you to amend the goods to specify the feature instead of the product? It will depend on your particular examiner, but don’t get your hopes up. If the examiner feels that your proposed amendment would broaden the scope of the goods beyond that of the original identification, your amendment will not be accepted.
So get it right at the very beginning. Identify the product feature accurately. If you’re unsure about your description, hire an experienced trademark attorney. Otherwise, you might end up waiting 8 to 12 months to find out your trademark application is defective and irreparable.
Thinking about trademarking a product feature or component?
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