Almost anything can be a trademark if it indicates the source of your goods and services. It could be a word, slogan, design, or combination of these. It could even be a sound, a scent, or a color.
Some registered trademarks you may recognize include:
for "hot pizza pies."
for Target's "retail department store services."
You can apply to register your trademark in standard character format or special form format. The format you choose will affect the scope of protection for your trademark registration. For example, The Coca-Cola Company has registered its Coca-Cola® trademark in both standard character format and special form formats, such as:
Here the trademark is registered in standard character format. This format provides the broadest protection because it protects the words themselves and is not limited to a particular font style, size, or color.
Here the trademark is registered in special form format, where the stylized lettering is a significant part of what’s protected.
Coca-Cola also registered this trademark in special form format. It includes both the stylized wording and wavy lines underneath.
This registered trademark in special form format shows the same stylized wording, but it appears on their distinctively shaped contour bottle. The design of the bottle is part of what’s protected.
Because color wasn’t claimed as a feature of any of the above trademarks, Coca-Cola can use their trademarks in any color.
Most trademarks are registered in standard character format. This format protects words, letters, numbers, or a combination of those without any limitation to a specific font style, size, color, or design. Basically, you’re getting protection for the words themselves, regardless of how they’re displayed, like with the registered word Coca-Cola®.
Some other standard character format examples include:
- Under Armour®
- It’s finger lickin’ good!®
- Just do it®
- America runs on Dunkin’®
Trademarks registered in special form format protect trademarks that are stylized , have designs or logos, or are in color. Trademark owners typically register in special form format when the stylization and design is an important part of the trademark. With this format, you’re getting protection specifically for the way the trademark looks.
The McDonald’s® golden arches design is an example of a registered trademark in special form format.
The company Nike registered this trademark in special form format, combining the stylized word Nike® with their swoosh logo.
The format of the trademark you apply to register affects your application filing requirements. Learn more about the two different formats of trademarks and their filing requirements.
As shown above, trademark owners can register their trademarks in different formats. Here are some additional examples highlighting how a company might register a single trademark in both standard character format and special form format.
Head & Shoulders
The Head & Shoulders® trademark is owned by the Proctor & Gamble Company.
Head & Shoulders®
The trademark is registered in standard character format for “hair shampoo.”
The trademark is registered in special form format for “medicated hair care preparations.”
The Google® trademark is owned by Google LLC.
The trademark is registered in standard character format for many goods and services including “software for accessing and searching online databases and websites,” “technical consulting services in the field of archiving of data for others in the nature of historical records and documents,” and “computer services, namely, creating cloud-based indexes of information.”
The trademark is registered in special form format for goods and services like “computer hardware” and “bill payment services.”
DISCLAIMER: References to particular trademarks, service marks, certification marks, products, services, companies, or organizations appearing on this page are for illustrative and educational purposes only and do not constitute or imply endorsement by the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or any other federal agency.