How a Guitar-Shaped Hotel Rocked the Trademark World 🎸

If you are a fan of music, architecture, or trademarks, you might have heard of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. This hotel is not your typical lodging place. It is shaped like a giant guitar, complete with strings, frets, and a headstock. The hotel is part of the Hard Rock brand, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and it opened in 2019 after a $1.5 billion expansion project.

But the hotel is not only impressive for its design. It is also the subject of a recent trademark decision that set a new precedent for building designs as service marks. In May 2023, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled that the guitar-shaped hotel was inherently distinctive and eligible for trademark protection without showing secondary meaning.