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Inventing a new trademark isn’t easy. You’ll want to consider a lot of different factors before you settle on one — not the least of these factors being the originality and uniqueness of the mark. You’ll also want to consider how well the mark describes your business or product and what your business or product could potentially grow toward one day.

As for originality, trademarks may be categorized into the following five levels of originality — from most original to least original:

  • Invented words or “coined” marks: These invented words usually don’t have any meaning aside from the invention, product or company they represent. Kodak is a great example. This word doesn’t mean anything else than the product, and everyone recognizes it. Kodak would be a difficult name to copy without getting into a trademark battle with the company.
  • Arbitrary marks: These are words with commonly recognized meanings, but they’re assigned to a product that seems entirely unrelated. Blackberry cell phones and Macintosh computers are great examples of this.
  • Suggestive marks: These marks have names that offer a hint about a certain characteristic of the product. Airbus jet planes and Sweetart candy are excellent examples of this.
  • Descriptive marks: These aren’t just suggestively descriptive, but actually attempt to describe the product directly. Best Tea and Cold Stone Creamery (for ice cream) are examples.
  • Generic marks: These marks may have been original for a product at one time, but now they’re household names and part of the vocabulary. These words may even have been used exclusively by one company, but the company failed to protect them as trademarks. Cellophane and escalator are examples of generic marks.

If you have an original name for a business or product, you might be able to protect this name as a trademark. However, legal action could be required to secure this kind of trademark protection against potential competitors.