There are mainly two types of trademark, a standard one and a stylized one.
A standard one (called a standard character mark) establishes your trademark rights to the written words of the mark whereas a stylized one (called a stylized/design mark) to the expression of the words in a certain way.
For example, “Coca-Cola” is a brand name of a certain soda drink, registered to the Coca-Cola Company. But you more often see the name in a particular style as shown here.
Nowadays, the use of stylized logos and designs is very common because it effectively sets apart the company/brand from competitors’.
A common choice is Standard Character.
Although virtually all companies use at least some design/style elements in their trademark, still most of the companies register their trademark in a standard character format. Why?
- They don’t want their trademark right to be limited to a specific design. In fact, if you registered your brand name in a standard character format, any style/design of that registered name can’t be used by your competitors.
- Also, once registered as a stylized/design mark you can’t change the design or style of the mark. Companies often update their design and style elements to modernize them.
Thus, it’s is a rule of thumb that a standard character format affords a better protection.
A Styled/Design Mark works a bit differently.
Let’s say IPfever registered a stylized trademark: After a few years, a website devoted to teaching Japanese language and culture dubs itself Japanese Fever, “JP fever” in short, and starts using this logo:.
Do you see any problem? Although they changed a letter, they look too similar. There’s likely an infringement case.
However, if IPfever were registered as standard character, it would’ve been a different story. Because “fever” in Japanese Fever can be considered as a descriptive word for passion and enthusiasm for Japanese culture, it likely has a leeway.
But it should be noted that stylized/design marks have their own limitation. If Japanese Fever , I say this one differs in style so much to escape from a potential trademark infringement claim.
You have to choose, but choose wisely.
You might say you would just register both standard character and design marks. Problem solved? Well, it’s not that simple.
You can’t claim “the coffee house” trademark for your coffee house because that’s what people call any coffee house. It’s reserved for everyone. But you may register this stylized/design mark.
You probably need to disclaim rights to the words, (meaning that others can literally use the same name) but it still protects you from something like this knock-off.
So, figure out what’s the strength and weakness of your mark, and then choose wisely.