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question.jpgIn Trademarks

What is trade dress?

Most of trademark law focuses on the idea that the source of a product can be identified by the product’s brand name, slogan, etc. However, there are also situations where a product has such a distinctive design or packaging, that the design/packaging itself acts as a source indicator.┬áThis distinctive “look and feel” of the product is known as trade dress and is protected under the same trademark laws applicable to a brand name or slogan. For example, the shape and design of the original glass Coca-Cola bottle is so well known and recognized that it is protectable trade dress. Coca- Cola could therefore prevent other soda manufacturers from distributing their colas in a similar bottle on the basis that there would be a likelihood of confusion.

The major difference between the protectability of trade dress and other types of trademarks is that, to be protected, trade dress can never be inherently distinctive and must therefore always have secondary meaning.