question.jpgIn Trademarks

What is a suggestive mark?

There are several categories that are used in referring to a mark. One of these categories is known as “suggestive.” A mark that is suggestive is related to, and suggestive of, some quality or characteristic of the goods and services. It does not actually describe the quality or characteristic, mind you, but it alludes to it.

There is a fine distinction between suggestive marks and descriptive marks, which actually do describe some quality or characteristic of the goods and services. The key to this distinction is that a consumer must use a little imagination to see how the suggestive mark relates to the quality or characteristic of the goods and services, whereas no imagination is necessary with a descriptive mark. Examples of marks which have been found to be suggestive rather than descriptive include GREYHOUND (as used with bus lines) and CITIBANK (as used with financial services).

While suggestive marks are not as strong as arbitrary and fanciful marks, they are still provided relatively broad protection (as long as they are not confusingly similar to previous marks). Suggestive marks are considered to be inherently distinctive, just like arbitrary and fanciful marks, and the owner therefore does not have to show that the mark has acquired any secondary meaning in order to be entitled to protect the mark.

In addition to suggestive marks, the other relevant categories of marks are arbitrary or fanciful marks, descriptive marks and generic marks.