Not all trademarks are created equal. For inherently distinctive marks, the path toward trademark protection is often a routine matter of filling out the necessary paperwork. For descriptive marks, trademark protection is sometimes simply not an option.
However, through consistent use and brand building within their market, some descriptive marks can acquire distinctiveness among consumers. When this happens, the mark is said to have acquired “secondary meaning” among consumers. Secondary meaning occurs when relevant consumers associate an otherwise descriptive mark with a single source. Secondary meaning is a powerful indicator that a mark is no longer descriptive and has been elevated in the minds of consumers as distinctive identifier of a brand.
Proving secondary meaning is often a crucial step in trademark litigation. A finding of secondary meaning essentially elevates a mark’s status, opening the path to trademark protections that previously may have been unavailable. For this reason, allocating sufficient attention to the issue of secondary meaning should be a primary consideration in developing case strategy.
Conducting a consumer research study is a common approach toward proving secondary meaning. Keegan & Donato Consulting will design a study to target relevant consumers in your client’s market and determine how these consumers perceive your client’s brand. Call us to find out how a secondary meaning study can help you develop a robust case strategy.