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What is a famous trademark?

A famous trademark is one that has established a strong connection, in the minds of the consumers, between a specific good or service and the source of that good or service. For example, the COCA-COLA and SONY brands have been determined to be strong and famous marks. The question of whether a trademark is famous or not is relevant when talking about trademark dilution, where a third party is arguably weakening the strength of a famous mark.

The Federal Trademark Dilution Act suggests that the following factors should be used in considering whether a mark is famous (this list is not exhaustive):

1. How distinct the mark is (either by being inherently distinctive or by having acquired secondary meaning).

2. How long and to what extent the mark has been used with the connected goods and services.

3. How much advertising and publicity there has been for the mark.

4. How widespread, geographically, the mark has been used.

5. What channels of trade are used for the mark’s associated goods and services.

6. How well-recognized the mark is in the channels of trade used by the owner and the channels of trade used by the potentially diluting mark.

7. How many similar marks are used by third parties, and the extent of such use.

While each state may have its own standards for defining what qualifies as a famous trademark, these factors generally apply.