Distinctive Trademark Definition

A standard of trademark protection. Trademarks and service marks are judged on a spectrum of distinctiveness. The most unusual (in the context of their use) are considered the most memorable. Distinctive marks typically consist of terms that are fanciful or coined (Maalox or Xerox), arbitrary (Penguin for books, Arrow for shirts), or suggestive (Accuride tires). Distinctive marks receive maximum judicial protection under state and federal laws. Trademarks that describe some aspect of the goods or services are not considered distinctive and cannot acquire federal registration absent proof that consumers associate the goods or services with the mark (known as secondary meaning). (See also: secondary meaning)