What the heck is Trade Dress?

Most people are familiar with trademarks in logos and words. However, a lot fewer people realize that the actual packaging for a product and the design of a product can serve the same function as a trademark. This is known as Trade Dress. One prominent example of trade dress is the shape of the Coca Cola bottle. Coca Cola has actually registered this as a Federal Trademark and can prevent others from using bottles that are the same or confusingly similar to this bottle. Trade dress protection can extend to any portion of a product or service that can indicate source to consumers. Some have even received trademark registrations for architectural works. So just because you are not using the actual words or logo of a company in your product does not mean you are safe if people could associate a portion of your product or service with someone else.

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