Frequently Asked Questions
How can a product's shape, like that of a Coca-Cola bottle, be protected by trade dress?
Trade dress, a type of intellectual property, encompasses all elements that constitute the overall image of a product or service, including color, shape, size, configuration, and packaging. It is protected under trademark law, with the Lanham (Trademark) Act applying to both registered and unregistered marks. Trade dress is concerned with the promotional aspects or image of a product or service, and does not apply to any aspect that is purely functional. The shape of a product, such as a Coca-Cola bottle, can be protected by trade dress as it is distinctive and instantly identifies the product. The shape of the Coca-Cola bottle doesn't serve a functional purpose, as the product could be sold in bottles of any shape. Therefore, it can be protected by trade dress. This was demonstrated in a court case where a company claimed trade dress on the round design of a beach towel. The court found this design was primarily functional rather than promotional, so it could not be protected.
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