Top Things to Avoid in Your Trademark

I am often asked what kinds of trademarks should be avoided because they are not valid marks or simply difficult to obtain. First, generic or highly descriptive words can never be trademarked. For instance, you cannot trademark the word apple with regards to selling apples. All apple sellers should be allowed to use generic terms and no one should have a monopoly on such basic terms. Second, last names by themselves can be difficult. However, this could easily be overcome by simply adding a first name or other nondescript wording. Third, geographic locations used with generic terms are also difficult to obtain. For example, the mark Hollywood Helicopter Rides would be difficult to obtain without substantial use in the marketplace. Fourth, geographically misdescriptive marks are also difficult, if not impossible to obtain. Your mark is Napa Valley Wines, but you source all of your wines from North Carolina. Which is clearly not Napa Valley. This is simply geographically misdescriptive and is not registered. If you have more questions, we suggest consulting an experienced intellectual property attorney.