Non-Traditional Trademarks

What is a Collective Membership Mark?

Hikers walking up a hill with a night blue sky behind them
If you are a member of an organization, such as a professional association, a trade union, a club, or a fraternity, you may have seen or used a symbol that represents your membership in that group. For example, you may have worn a pin, a ring, a vest, or a badge that displays the name or logo of your organization. Or you may have hung a plaque or a certificate on your wall that shows your affiliation with a certain group. These symbols are not just mere decorations; they are examples of collective membership trademarks.

Certification Marks: How to Register and Protect Your Quality Standards

two people holding juice bottles in front of a cooler with the sign "100% organic"
Trademarks don’t just apply to standard goods and services that people are see in commerce everyday, but marks of authenticity and certification can also be trademarked. Have you ever seen a symbol or a word that indicates that a product or a service meets certain quality standards or criteria? For example, the UL mark for electrical safety, the USDA Organic seal for organic food, or the LEED logo for green buildings. These are examples of certification marks, which are a type of trademark that is used to show consumers that particular goods and/or services, or their providers, have met certain standards set by the owner of the mark.

Motion Marks: How to Register and Protect Moving Trademarks

a curved highway at night where the lights of the cars create streaking lines of light
Have you ever seen a logo that moves or changes shape, color, or sound? The Pixar lamp at the beginning of their movies is a great example. Motion marks are exactly what the name implies, trademarks that consist of moving visuals. Motion marks are a type of non-traditional trademark, which are trademarks that do not consist of static words, logos, or designs. Other types of non-traditional trademarks include colors, sounds, smells, certification marks, and even trade dress.

What’s That Sound? Registering Sounds as Trademarks

a cassette tape artistically unspooled on a yellow background

Sounds can be powerful. A chime, a roar, a jingle. When done right, they stay with us. They become earworms, and when we hear them, they can evoke images and associations.

Sound trademarks are a type of non-traditional trademark, which do not consist of words, logos, or designs. Non-traditional trademarks are generally harder to register and protect than traditional trademarks, as they have to overcome several legal and practical challenges.