Trade Dress: a Different Type of Trademark

Updated: Sep 11

This article explores what Washington State businesses should know about the trademark protections in product trade dress.

What is trade dress in trademark law?

Notice the red, Mansard-style roof in the above image, with its yellow, bending stripes that resemble french fries. You know exactly what business this is instantly, and you're probably getting hungry already, right? Buy why? The name of the business isn't displayed, and there's no logo. This image illustrates a specific type of trademark known as "trade dress," and it concerns the look and feel of the product. You can now see why protecting ownership of trade dress is important. If you were to open your restaurant in a building like this, customers would come rushing in, assuming your restaurant was associated with the original.

What is included?

Trade dress is all about the look and feel of a product or a service establishment. This may include:

  • size

  • shape

  • color

  • texture

  • graphics

  • sales techniques

  • marketing

  • strategies

How do I get protection for the trade dress of my WA business?

In order to gain protection, the trade dress must distinctively identify the brand and not be a mere function of the product or service. For instance, one cannot simply register the color red for for a clothing line. However, designer Louboutin was successful in registering red for its shoes, when used as a distinctive, red sole that contrasts with the rest of the shoe.

If you have more questions about trade dress trademark protection under Vancouver, Washington law, contact In-house | On-site to speak with a Vancouver WA lawyer with knowledge of Vancouver WA law and trade dress protections.

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