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Frequently Asked Questions

What elements are covered under the term “Trade Dress”?

Trade dress encompasses all elements that contribute to the overall image of a product or service. This includes, but is not limited to, the color, shape, size, configuration, and packaging of a product. It can also extend to decor, architecture, or any other aspect that makes the presentation of a product or service distinctive. Trade dress, a type of intellectual property, is protected under trademark law, specifically the Lanham (Trademark) Act. This law applies regardless of whether the mark is registered or unregistered. 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. For instance, the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle, which is distinctive and instantly identifies the product, can be protected by trade dress as it doesn't have a functional purpose. Trade dress can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), although it is often not registered due to the costs involved, particularly the costs of proving distinctiveness. However, registering it as a trademark provides additional protection in federal courts.
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