Detroit Trademark Attorneys: What Is a Slogan?
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) relies on Webster's Dictionary in Sec. 1213.05(b)(i) of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) as "a brief attention-getting phrase used in advertising and promotion" and "a catch phrase used to advertise a product."
It is, in other words, a collection of words with a commercial purpose: identifying the source of a a product or service.
Slogans have an "attention-getting" purpose and so, although a collection of individual words, are treated as a unitary mark.
When Can a Slogan or Advertising Phrase Be Trademarked?
A slogan can be trademarked (which is to say, published on the Federal Register of trademarks) when it is NOT generic, merely descriptive, merely informational, and when it is being used in a trademark sense (or used as a trademark)--to advertise a product or service in the stream of interstate commerce.
Trademark Registration for Slogans: Generic Marks
A generic trademark is a mark that has lost its unique reference to a specific manufacturer or service provider as a result of its popularity or proliferation in the market over a long period of time.
A generic trademark no longer identifies one owner in particular. Rather, it has come to identify an entire class of products.
Trademark Registration for Slogans: Merely Descriptive Marks
A slogan that "merely describes" the good or services to which it is connected is not registrable given the USPTO's concern that such marks marks may inhibit commercial competition.
An example might be something along the lines of, "A Carbonated Soda!"
Trademark Registration for Slogans: Merely Informational Marks
A slogan that fails to function as a mark to indicate its source is not registrable. This can occur when consumers would perceive the mark as merely conveying general information about the goods or services or as an informational message rather than as a means of identifying the source of those good or services.
A merely informational mark fails to distinguish those goods and services from any others of a like type.
Trademark Registration for Slogans: Used In a Trademark Sense
Use of the slogan or advertising phrase "in a trademark sense" means that the mark has actually been placed onto a product or its packaging or hang-tag and delivered to an actual customer.
Use of the slogan in advertising only will not constitute "use in a trademark sense."
Detroit Trademark Attorneys: Slogans & Advertising Phrase Trademark, a Bottom Line
The bottom line with regard to slogans and advertising phrases is that they may or may not be registrable as trademarks depending on the circumstances of their use and composition.
Retention of a knowledgeable trademark attorney to discuss the quality of your slogan or phrase is essential to ensure the best chance of success once the application is filed with the USPTO.
If you are interested in discussing the filing of an initial trademark application, please contact us here or at (734) 743-1489 to discuss your matter.
The Hilla Law Firm, PLLC is located in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan but represents trademark clients across the United States. We look forward to hearing from you!