From the archives: What “things” can we trademark?


When trying to come up with your new brand name or trademark, you will probably start hitting your head against the proverbial wall.

It’s not that easy to come up with a catchy, original name and just when you think you’ve nailed it, you find out someone else is using it already.

You need not be restricted to just an ordinary word or a picture. Below you will find a list of ‘things’ that you can incorporate in your trademark:

  1. Device
  2. Name
  3. Signature
  4. Word
  5. Letter
  6. Numeral
  7. Shape
  8. Configuration
  9. Pattern
  10. Ornamentation
  11. Colour
  12. Container

Think about these guidelines when scratching your head!

An invented or coined word without any meaning (ZAPPA)

An ordinary word that has no specific association or reference to the product or service for which it is used (WHITE HORSE for whisky)

A foreign (in South Africa non-English, non-Afrikaans or non-black language) word with a meaning non-relevant to the product or services (J’TAIME)

The name of the proprietor or founder of a company (DE BEERS)

The name of a famous person (COLUMBUS)

A name from mythology (NEPTUNE)

It may include initials (PS)

Be an acronym (SABC)

Can comprise numerals, with or without letters (3G), represented in ordinary letters /numerals or in special letters / numerals

And finally, a logo or a pictorial mark, with or without any wording.

Don’t rush this decision – your trademark is one of the most important investments in your business.

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