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How can “trade dress” grow your brand’s identity?

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2023 | BUSINESS & COMMERCIAL LAW - Intellectual Property

If you ever see a carmine red sole on someone’s high-heeled shoes, you may instantly recognize them as Louboutin’s. Or, maybe you instantly recognize the minimalist white and black design of an Apple product.

While the packaging or use of unique colors as part of a design element has no bearing on the quality of a product, it does create a visual reminder of your brand. That’s why “trade dress” can be so important to a company’s identity and reputation.

What are some examples of trade dress?

Trade dress refers to the overall visual appearance of a product’s packaging, design, color schemes or other distinctive elements that set them apart from similar products by another brand. Trade dress qualifies for trademark protection when it is both non-functional and distinctive.

Examples of commonly recognized trade dress include:

  • John Deere’s colors: The distinctive green and yellow machinery immediately conveys “quality” to a lot of people in the agricultural industry, and it’s part of the reason that John Deere has become a global leader when it comes to certain equipment.
  • Coca-Cola’s bottle: The soft drink’s iconic glass bottle has a distinctive silhouette that is instantly recognizable even if the label isn’t there – making it one of the most familiar examples of trade dress around the nation (or world).
  • Tiffany’s blue box: The robin’s egg blue box has become synonymous with quality and has helped make Tiffany’s & Co. the luxury brand it is today.

In general, protecting your brand’s trade dress is an important part of preventing confusion among consumers and protecting the goodwill your brand has earned. If you need help with your pursuit of a trademark or want to take additional steps to protect your trademark, seeking legal guidance can make the process easier.