The value of trademarks like all legal matters is only illustrated when the worst happens. Until then it is difficult for an inexperienced entrepreneur to really appreciate their value. Mr Payan Tabibian is an entrepreneur, originally Iranian but with US nationality, who had an idea for a business, much like millions of other entrepreneurs around the world every day.
Mr Tabibian had an idea for a hamburger restaurant, and one of his initial tasks was to come up with a distinctive name and logo. Like millions of entrepreneurs just starting off their businesses, Mr Tabibian could not have imagined that 10 years after he thought of the Z-burger trademark, his brand name and logo would become embroiled in a legal battle worth millions.
Can I trademark smells? Can a shape be trademarked? This is recurrent question we get asked as our clients are mostly in the creative industries.
A trademark sign must be capable of being represented graphically. This means that it must be in some kind of physical form. But contemporary culture has evolved so that purely physical representation alone cannot always capture the distinction between goods and services. Sounds, and colours have also been accepted as being capable of graphic representation even though sound, for example, lacks physical form. Even tastes and personal names can now be registered as trade marks. In other words, an application for a trademark sign can be supported with evidence to prove that the mark is clearly distinctive of the origin of a good or service therefore making it capable of graphic representation. So an application for a sound can be supported with a verbal description and a musical score.