Wallingford, CT asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark

Q: Can a brand trademark generic/common patterns or can they be freely used without worry?

Category would be fashion, apparel, and bags. How can some of these simple shapes and designs be trademarked when they are common and generic? Are they safe to use?







2 Lawyer Answers
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Mesa, AZ

A: Common and generic are not in reference to the trademark itself, but in the relationship of the trademark with the product or service.

Like apple for fruits. Oracle for card reading.

If used outside their expected space, they may be protectable.

Consult with an attorney.



480 324 6378

Barbara Berschler agrees with this answer

Barbara Berschler
Barbara Berschler
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD

A: It is not clear from your question, but fabric designs can be protected by copyright as well as the "look" of the particular purse, for example if the designer uses certain patterns of leather to decorate the purse. Likewise if the shape of an object is distinctive, it can come to acquire trademark characteristics. For example, think of the Coke a Cola bottle. The company does not have to put its logo on such a shape for the bottle to be identified as related to their brand of soda.

Others can design bags, etc., but depending on the detail used on the item, unless careful, such may come off as trading off of someone else's brand for the product.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.