August 15, 2014

Suggestive Trademarks: A Subtle Hint Is Best

by Guest Blogger

By: Justin McNaughton

08 15 14 Blog Bioworks

I am heading back from attending the Demo Day in Memphis yesterday for Zeroto510, Tennessee's medical device incubator program. Zeroto510 is produced by Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Tennessee which promotes economic development in the biosciences. Of course, given our involvement in life sciences and our office in the Bioworks Foundation building, it was natural for us to be at the program to celebrate the medical device companies being fostered and the great community support for biosciences in Tennessee. I was also struck by what clever trademarks BIOWORKS and ZEROTO510 are for these organizations (and, of course, the subject matter of this blog is limited to trademarks).

Take BIOWORKS first. A trademark's strength is classified along a spectrum of increasing inherent distinctiveness. Although the strongest trademarks are often considered to be those that are arbitrary or fanciful, many companies prefer a suggestive trademark because it provides a hint, suggestion or clever comment about the company's product or the company's field. Take BIOWORKS for example, it doesn't describe the services but it does provide hints as to the type of services and the field of services.

Even more subtle, ZEROTO510 provides a feeling of acceleration, while dropping an insider hint at medical device community. For those unfamiliar with medical devices, Section 510(k) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act provides a registration process for the FDA to determine whether a device is equivalent to another device already in the market (if so, the FDA approval process is much simpler).

When coming up with a good trademark, you may decide you want to emphasize certain features of your products and services, rather than using a completely arbitrary mark. By identifying the features of your product or service that you would like to emphasize, you can choose a clever mark that suggests those features.

For those of you techies who want to check out the great companies and products currently in ZEROTO510.

Great job yesterday! Great program!

P.S. and totally unrelated - Just a quick shout out to Will Wilson one of our fellow IP attorneys in Nashville on his new job! Will is off to DC to work at Hunton & Williams next week. Good luck Will, and we'll miss you here in Nashville!

Will Wilson

Will Wilson striking a pose

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms.