Spectrum of Distinctiveness – Arbitrary Brands

Copyright Law

Richard Rimer

July 13, 2022

It’s summertime!  And we all know what that means—we celebrate the spectrum of distinctiveness!  Of course, this is the concept that you can’t claim exclusive branding rights in words used in their normal meaning.  Our stop today is at arbitrary brands.  An arbitrary brand is a word that is recognized generally by the public, but it has a meaning wholly unrelated to the underlying goods or services.  A well-known example is “Apple” for computers.

My latest client asked if I would search his brand “Charger.”  I said, “please don’t tell me you want to use this brand with sort of computer product.”  I was relieved to hear it was for kids’ wooden toy, which likely made it an arbitrary brand.

Your neighbor asked you to help her pick a name for her new car parts store in Marietta.  You’ve heard multiple suggestions that are puns on “on the road” and “maintenance.”  Propose that she do what the big companies do— pick a highly distinctive name.  The name will turn heads and will be very easy to defend if the need should arise.