23 March 2022
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We are excited to announce the launch of our latest special report Non-traditional pharmaceutical trade marks.  Our report examines the vital role that such trade marks can play in a brand protection strategy and what the future might hold for non-traditional trade marks.

Non-traditional trade marks typically include any type of trade mark beyond a word mark, logo mark or logo with words. They can be registered provided that they are capable of both being represented in the register in a manner which enables people to determine the clear and precise subject matter of the protection afforded, and distinguish goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.

We consider the challenges to registering non-traditional trade marks. Shapes for example are often not considered to be inherently distinctive, as consumers will typically see them as decorative or functional, rather than as indicating the origin of the product. This means that even if you have presented a shape in a clear precise way, objections may be raised on the grounds that the mark is devoid of distinctive character.

Meanwhile it can be particularly challenging to register colours as trade marks as they are typically not considered to function as trade marks upon creation. It is possible to overcome objections however by gathering and filing evidence of use of the mark.

Other non-traditional trade marks covered in the report include sound, motion, multimedia and position (the specific way in which a sign is placed on or affixed to goods). We also touch on other types of trade marks that have been the subject of registration applications, including smells and tastes.

Kate O'Rourke, Partner and Chartered Trade Mark Attorney, said:

“Non-traditional trademarks have been a growth area for many years and that looks set to continue as brand strategy becomes more sophisticated, particularly across the pharmaceutical and FMCG sectors but also elsewhere. Shape, colour and position marks are increasingly adding significant value to a brand. In some cases, consumers are coming to see those elements as indicating brand origin, a role that in the past was often performed solely by the brand name and logo".

“Any business now seeking to establish or protect a successful brand should be thinking in terms of these less-considered trademarks, as well as more traditional ones, if they want to stand out from the competition.”


Non-Traditional Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Special Report 2022

In this special report, we explore the relevance of each type of non-traditional trade mark to the pharmaceutical sector, how they can be registered and enforced and the particular challenges brands will face along the way. We also explore the difficulties associated with attempts to register smell and taste marks successfully and what the future might hold for non-traditional trade marks in the pharma space.

download the report


Jacqueline is a member of the firms Marketing and BD team. She is a marketing and business development manager responsible for the firm’s profile-raising activity and practice group marketing and BD. She works primarily with the Chemistry and Legal practice groups and also manages other firmwide projects.

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