Trade dress can be a trademark and can be registered.
How nice. What the hell is trade dress?
Trade dress is the visual appearance of a product or its packaging that’s not functional.
Great. Clear as my aunt’s cataracts.
Let’s try some examples.
A non-functional aspect of a building can be trade dress. You can’t register the fact that your building has a roof, because buildings need to have roofs, but the blue roof of an IHOP® or the orange roof of Howard Johnson’s® can be (and are) trademarks because roofs don’t have to be a color.
My favorite “building marks” are the glass cube Apple® Store and Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik® that registered “goats on a roof of grass.”
Did you say “goats on a roof of grass”?
Yes. Yes, I did.
There’s also the door of seemingly broken glass used by Urban Outfitters® in some locations.
What else can be trade dress besides buildings?
The shape of a bottle has been and continues to be important for both beverages and perfumes. Excellent examples are the shape of a Coke® bottle, the shape of a Hendricks® gin bottle, and the iconic shape of the bottle for Chanel No. 5®.
Pockets on pants are functional, so you can’t have trademark rights in pockets, but you can register the shape of pockets, the stitching, and the placement of the label with the pocket. Here’s Levi’s® registered trademark.
Trade dress. Cool stuff, huh?