If you have just created a company, a project, or if you are about to launch a new product to the market, you have probably already asked yourself what types of brands can be registered.
Is registering the name of the company enough, or do you also have to protect the name of the product or service you are going to sell? Is the brand just the name or also the logo? In this post, we clarify everything that can be registered as a brand both in Spain and in the European Union.
Names, words, letters, and numbers
You may register as a trademark any word or combination of words, whether those that name a product or service as a trade name. Both proper names (your first name, surname or both) and pseudonyms are allowed, as well as invented and fantasy names. An example would be the combination of the brand name and the tagline, for example, or the brand and a slogan.
In addition, combinations of specific numbers and letters can also be protected. What you register is only the name, without including any graphic elements, so it is recommended that you register a word mark if you only want to protect the name or a specific slogan, but without including the visual part.
Logos and other visual identity symbols
The figurative mark can be used to register any element that is exclusively graphic, or that combines graphics with verbal aspects. Thus, we can protect from the logo to the isotypes, imagotypes, or any symbol or illustration that visually represents our brand. The ‘essence’ of the visual identity shall be protected in this way, and no one shall be able to improperly use these elements without the owner authorization.
Packaging, containers, jars, bottles as brands
Some parts of the identity relating to the appearance of the products, such as containers, packaging, the particular shape of the products themselves that allow customers to associate it specifically with the brand, can also be protected as a trademark. If the appearance of the product is considered a fundamental part of the visual identity, and you have bothered to create something different, why not protect it as well? Without a doubt, it is one of the aspects that most help consumers identify the brand, and also those that have the biggest impact in the customer experience.
The position of an element can also be registered as a trademark
Yes, you read that right. The position is something that can be registered. We refer to the specific way or place in which, for example, a logo is placed on a product, or how certain shapes are placed on it. A clear example of a position mark would be the particular lines that some brands of shoes use on the footwear to make them unmistakable (and that so often try to imitate others).
Prints or any pattern of repeating elements
Do you know a brand whose bags display the company logo over and over again, extending across the entire surface of the fabric? Well that pattern, or the repetition of elements in such a specific way, can also be registered as a trademark, which has allowed some emblematic companies to protect their prints. It is one of the aspects that most tend to be copied, especially in industries such as fashion and accessories.
Colors are also part of a brand
But there are exceptions. A color can only be registered if it is sufficiently distinctive, and if society as a whole associates it with your visual identity. For example, thanks to this unconventional brand, Milka obtained ownership of its particular shade of purple. It is also possible to register a combination of colors. A clear example of this is the blue-red combination registered by the soccer team, FC Barcelona.
Sound marks: jingles, melodies, sound concepts
A sound mark can protect any sound that is considered distinctive. This includes any type of jingle (such as the Mercadona supermarket jingle, which is protected) or corporate song. But it also allows for the protection of characteristic sounds that influence customer experience, which the consumer specifically associates with a given brand. Good examples of this are Apple and Windows, which trademarked the signature startup sounds their computers make.
A movement, yes. A video that combines movement and sound
If your isotype, or any other visual element of your brand, makes any characteristic movement (either in advertising or directly in UX), the representation of that movement can be trademarked. Let’s go back to the example of Windows, which has protected the way in which its isotype appears on screen upon startup.
In the same way, you can register the combination of movements, sounds, and images that are associated with your brand through branded multimedia; the possibilities in video branding are endless.
Holograms, or characteristic holographic effects associated with a brand, may also be protected. In fact, there is a specific registration formula for this such as the hologram mark.
As you can see, there are many avenues to protect your brands. Many of these are relatively recent. (In Spain, for example, it wasn’t possible to register some unconventional brands until January, 2019). However, legislation has had to adapt to the today’s reality and the complexity and richness of modern-day branding, in which the ways we identify ourselves and claim our uniqueness in the eyes of our customers have multiplied and adopted very diverse forms. Protecting them will allow you to grow your brand globally and fully protect your identity vis-à-vis third parties.