What is real
is not external form.


The principles of non-conventional brands


It is no secret anymore that large companies tend to use complex product strategies, develop them, and expand into different commercial markets. These strategies also consider the field of intellectual property and the subsequent protection of their market share. Brands are distinguishable by their forms and appearances and are well categorized by international state offices. They are often distinguished by their perfumes as well, but conventional trademarks do not protect their perfumes and specific smells from being imitated. Instead, a non-conventional trademark can be used.

The category of non-conventional brands – what do they mean?

A non-conventional trademark is a recent type of trademark that is not easily categorized. There are very few cases in which certain non-traditional trademarks could be registered at state offices. A well-known example is the Play-Doh perfume (Reg. No. 5,467,089), which is described as “a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla scent with light hints of cherry, combined with the smell of a dough salty, wheat-based”. Most of the time, consumers see a smell as a “simple attribute of the product” and not as the main feature of that brand.

Non-conventional (also referred to as non-traditional) brands may also include trademarks that take the following forms:

  • Sound trademarks: sounds represented by an audio file or by musical notation is used to uniquely identify a brand.
  • Motion trademarks: movements or changes in position can be rendered in a video recording to represent the mark.
  • Multimedia trademarks: a trademark characterised by an audio-visual file, often used by multimedia companies.
  • Hologram trademarks: a trademark identified by a video, graphic, or even a hologram.

Olfactory trademarks (smell-based) however are not taken seriously by state offices. Many businesses are distinguished based on their smell, so why would olfactory trademarks not be taken seriously? Currently, there is a requirement for the graphic representativeness of the future brand. The elimination of this criterion may lead to the creation of other categories of brands, which should be integrated into each existing business model on the market.

Companies that offer products in large numbers should consider protecting less traditional brands. This can prevent rivals from copying a non-traditional brand, enabling a business to remain distinguishable and viable.


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