What Is A Composite Trademark?

what is a composite trademark

You’ve likely heard of a trademark before, but you may not have heard of a composite trademark. Here is all you need to know about composite trademarks and why they might be important for you and your business.

What is a Composite Trademark?

A composite trademark is a trademark that consists of a combination of elements. These elements can include words, devices, shapes, sounds, scents, and/or colours. The best example of composite trademarks is a logo. This is because a logo generally consists of words, shapes, specific colours and at times, images. If you wished to trademark a business logo, it is likely you will be acquiring a composite trademark in order to securely trademark the entirety of the logo, not just one aspect of it. Therefore, this type of mark refers to its overall appearance, or the trademark ‘taken as a whole’. If you have a composite trademark you wish to register and you’d like to learn more, you should see our article “Should My Business Register A Composite Trademark?”.

Difference between Trademarks and Composite Trademarks

There is a major difference between single trademarks and composite trademarks. As explained above, composite trademarks are the trademarking of a combination of different elements. In comparison, a single or regular trademark will only involve one single element. To shed light on the actual differences between these trademarks, let’s take a look at some visual examples.

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Visual Differences

Let’s start with the Apple brand logo. The Apple logo is a single/regular trademark. This is because this logo only has one aspect to it – an image. Therefore, the image of the apple makes up the entirety of the trademark.

Now, let’s take a look at the Levi Strauss & Co logo. The Levi logo is a composite trademark. This is because this logo has many aspects to it – words, colour, images. Therefore, the overall imagery of the logo makes up the trademark.

What do I need to consider when registering a Composite Trademark?

Whenever you are considering registering a trademark, you must first consider whether your trademark is capable of being distinguished from other goods or services in the marketplace. As a composite trademark consists of a combination of different aspects (colour, words, images etc), it is quite easy to prove there is nothing like your trademark out there. This is one of the many advantages of registering a composite over a regular trademark.

However, composite trademarks can become a bit tricky. If your composite mark consists of any prominent feature that it not itself registrable as a trademark, your trademark may not be able to be registered at all. Features that are generally not registrable include surnames, names of geographical locations (e.g. Sydney), mere embellishments such as scrolls or plain geometric devices etc. To view a full list of elements not registrable as trademarks, follow this link.

Key Takeaways

A composite trademark is a trademark that involves a combination of different words, devices, shapes, sounds, scents and/or colour elements. Therefore, this type of trademark refers to the registering of the overall appearance of a mark. This is quite different from a regular trademark, which involves the registration of only one aspect. As shown above, trademarks and composite trademarks can look very different, with composite trademarks having many more elements to them than regular trademarks. If you have a logo that you wish to trademark, it is best to register it as a composite trademark, ensuring all aspects of the mark are protected. However, if your trademark has any prohibited features in it, you may have difficulty with its registration.

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