IP Tech Knowledgy

Background hero atmospheric image for Don’t Mutilate Your Trademark

Don’t Mutilate Your Trademark

Your trademark application should not mutilate your brand. A multi-word brand with a logo actually incorporates a number of different protectable trademarks: the words alone, the words with the logo, the logo alone or the whole design in specific coloring. In applying to register for only part of the entire brand, applicants should be certain not to be committing “mutilation.” Specific portions of a broader brand can be registered independently, so long as the extracted part can stand on its own and have its own separate and distinct commercial impression, apart from the larger mark. Mutilation occurs when the applied-for word or design is one that consumers cannot recognize as standing on its own. Pulling one specific element of a design away from a broader image is likely mutilation. If words in a logo design intersect each other, separating them and using only one word in the design could be mutilation. It is likely not mutilation for a brand that uses ABC LOGISTICS to register ABC. As in all other aspects of trademark law, the analysis rests on consumer perception. Would consumers understand that the claimed extracted portion can stand alone and identify the source of the goods or services, or is the claimed element something unrecognized that does not have its own separate and distinct commercial impression?


Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com