Laudatory words are commonly used by individuals and businesses trying to connote a sense of higher quality onto their brand or service. Words such as “Super”, “Plus”, “Premium”, “Deluxe”, or “Greatest” are just a few of the countless laudatory terms utilized in the market to try to make products or services stand out. The issue arises with the fact that these words are so overly used that they often produce the opposite effect—rather than standing out, it can make a product or business even more obscure.
Although laudatory words seem attractive to many individuals and businesses, it is best to proceed with caution. Laudatory trademarks are almost always too weak to receive protection. Even if you are able to register the mark, there is very little that can be done from a legal perspective to impede competitors from using the same laudatory word in their brand or service.
Protecting laudatory trademarks is often an uphill battle. To do so, you must demonstrate proof of secondary meaning, or prove how the laudatory word/phrase has over time become associated with your brand or service. If your laudatory mark can be proven to be associated with your specific brand or service in the eyes of the public, then you may be entitled protection. One great example of a successful trademark with a laudatory word is “Super Mario Bros.”, a trademark well-known on a global scale. Although the word “Super” is vague and describes little about the product, many people all over the world easily link the phrase “Super Mario Bros.” to the Nintendo video game that it is named after.
However, reaching this level of recognition is a very time consuming and difficult process. The vast majority of brand names and services that use laudatory terms cannot easily distinguish themselves from other products or services in the same market. The limited protection offered to laudatory marks also makes them an unsuitable choice for a trademark most of the time. Companies and individuals looking to release a new service or product are much better off choosing strong marks that offer greater protection, and thus be more easily distinguishable from your competitors in the eyes of the public.
Written by: David Sacasa Ⓒ 2021 Alcoba Law Group P.A.
Picture Credits: Miri Paez Bolet.
Reviewed by: Ruben Alcoba 10/27/2020
References: Rheintgen, K. (2019, February 21). Branding 101: Laudatory Trademarks – Are They Worth the Effort? Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.healthcarelawinsights.com/2013/09/branding-101-laudatory-trademarks-are-they-worth-the-effort/
McCarthy, J. T. (2009). McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition. St. Paul, MN: West Group.