What Is Trade Dress Protection? Keep Your Product Packaging Truly Unique!

Feb 6, 2023

What makes your product unique? For some companies, their packaging is as much a part of their brand as the product themselves. The shape, color, design, and configuration of your products is what helps your loyal customers to identify your work. If a competitor uses a similar packaging, it can create confusion on the market — sometimes intentionally. This is where trade dress protection can help you keep your product truly unique, packaging and all.

What Is Trade Dress Protection?

Trade dress refers to the design and shape of packaging materials for a particular product. A unique configuration, design, shape, or even color can make a product as distinctive as a logo or slogan. According to the Lanham Act, enacted in 1948, if your trade dress offers the same brand identification as your trademarks, you can protect it under trademark law. This means if your product has a unique and distinctive packaging or design, you can make sure your competitors don’t create something similar.

What Can Be Protected Under Trade Dress Protection?

Trade dress trademarks can protect the aesthetic elements of your product. For instance, the classic Coca Cola glass bottle is considered trade dress. When you see a sleek glass soda bottle, it’s easy to recognize it as a Coca Cola product, even if most of their sodas are sold in plastic bottles now. The stripes on Adidas sneakers are another example of trade dress.

In order to be considered trade dress, the aesthetic must be unique in your field and able to create an impression upon your customers. Within those rules, you can potentially protect these elements of your product:

  • Unique design or shape
  • Unique configuration
  • Unique color or color scheme
  • Distinctive symbols

When You Need Trade Dress Protection

You may not always need trade dress protection, but it’s important to know when you do. If your products and services are not much focused on aesthetics, you may be safe with traditional copyright, trademark, and patents. If your product has an aesthetic that stands out on the market and makes an impression on your customers, trade dress protection is something you should consider.

Without trade dress protection, competitors may create products that have similar color schemes, designs, or shapes. In an online listing or marketplace, it can be easy for a customer to purchase a product that looks like yours but actually comes from one of your competitors. Dress trade protection can ensure that your product stays unique so you don’t fall prey to that sort of market confusion.

Speak with an intellectual property attorney today to determine if trade dress protection is something you need. At Garcia-Zamor, our team has over two decades of combined experience in the world of intellectual property. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you keep your brand unique.