Every decision you make as a business owner helps to build your brand awareness and your business’s reputation. That’s why you need to do what you can to protect those interests as fully as possible. This may mean obtaining patents, copyrights, and trademarks, but there’s often one overlooked piece of intellectual property that can actually be quite valuable: trade dress.
What is trade dress?
In short, trade dress is the overall look of your product. It can include a product’s shape, texture, color, and any other defining characteristics. The scent of a product may even be deemed part of trade dress. So, a soda bottle with an interesting shape and a textured grip may receive trade dress protection. However, like with trademarks, trade dress has to meet some fundamental requirements before it can be granted protection.
Requirements for protection
There are a few things you’ll probably want to ensure you have before taking action for trade dress infringement. To start, consider whether your trade dress is distinctive and contains elements that are non-functional. As you may know, generic items and items that are functional, meaning that they are necessary for the product to operate, likely won’t receive protection. Keep in mind, though, that trade dress is looking at the product as a whole. So, even if certain elements of the product have been used before or parts of it are functional or generic, your entire product may still be able to receive trade dress protection.
How to navigate the complexities of IP law
Intellectual property law can provide you with enormous protection from those who want to exploit your hard work and goodwill. But it can also be challenging to understand and navigate confidently. That’s why those who think they may have protectable property should consider reaching out to an attorney of their choosing to discuss their legal option.