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What is trade dress and why is it important to protect it?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2021 | Intellectual Property |

Creating your brand has many components. In addition to your products and logos, you have to consider your product’s image for your customers.

A significant part of your brand’s image comes from a combination of your trademark and trade dress. When your customer picks up your product, the shapes, colors, words and designs come together to form an experience that you want to protect.

Here’s what you should know about protecting your business’s trade dress.

More than a mark

Your trademark is a distinctive word or mark that sets your business apart from your competition. Your trade dress can include traits of the product or packaging, such as:

  • Size and shape
  • Colors or color combinations
  • Textures

Keep in mind, these must not be part of the function of the product or its packaging. Trade dress is limited to traits that distinguish, not add functionality. For example, the bottle for a beverage would not be part of the product’s trade dress in and of itself. If that bottle has a unique shape, however, then that trait would set the product apart from other drinks.

Is the trade dress inherently distinctive?

When trade dress is inherently distinctive, it is easy to set a product apart from similar products. Alternatively, trade dress can acquire distinctiveness over time. In either case, there may be options for the protection of your company’s trade dress.

The risk of going without protection

When you do not have protection for your trade dress, you run the risk of another company implementing that same idea for their own product. Initially, it may not do significant harm. However, it could have a substantial impact on your business if your product becomes difficult to distinguish from your competitor’s.

Similar to your trademark and other intellectual property, trade dress can be an essential part of your business and needs protection to better ensure your long-term success.