Trademark Protection of Slogans Law and Legal Definition

Slogans are capable of trademark protection if they meet the trademark law requirements of use in commerce, distinctiveness, and unobjectionable content. Slogans are frequently used as marketing instruments to describe the underlying product or service. Mostly, they are descriptive, and lack inherent distinctiveness. Once they are used extensively enough in the market place to acquire secondary meaning, they can be registered.

Additionally, unless the slogan is in itself inherently distinctive and qualifies as a mark in itself, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requires that the slogan should be identified with the product or service so that the consuming public, upon hearing the slogan, relates it to the particular product or service. This requirement means that the slogan has developed a ‘secondary meaning.’

However, even if a slogan does not rise to the level of being protectable under federal registration guidelines, the law protects such slogans in other ways. There are rights of trademark that are based on ‘common law’ principles and unfair competition. Thus, even if the slogan is not the subject of a federal registration, it can be protectable upon a showing of a secondary meaning.