A regular reader sent me these two images. He wondered how they could coexist.
Let’s look at how:
- two different sellers of pizza
- can both use concentric circles
- with the color orange
- in the same geographic area
- without either of them infringing on the other.
The more commonplace the imagery in a logo, the more similarity is allowed. If the two logos pictured were both for a clothing store, I’d probably think one was infringing on the other.
But they’re for pizza. Pizzas are often round. Pizzas often have sauce, which is often reddish orange. Using a logo that looks like your product means that lots of people are using similar logos. Just look at all the logos in the featured image.
Let’s look at another example. Here’s just a tiny sampling of trademarks for clothing. They’re all pretty similar to each other but they’re allowed to co-exist because they, like the pizza logos, are basically “merely descriptive” of the goods.
What should you do if you want a rare or unique mark? Don’t have a logo that looks like your product.
That’s why the logo for my law practice isn’t a gavel or a set of scales or some other imagery that’s associated with the practice of law. Using a stylized bee as my logo means that another lawyer couldn’t use anything even remotely similar to my logo without infringing.
Shout out to Bill B. for the email that prompted this post