Registering Goods' Unique Shapes as Trademarks

Imagine you’re carrying a bottle of soda. You recognise the brand potential without even looking at the label. How? It is the shape. The bottle’s unique shapes reveal everything you need to know. Now, consider your favourite chocolate bar. Can you visualise its distinctive shape? How about the silhouette of your favourite car model? Shapes speak volumes. They distinguish products in a congested market, establishing an instant connection with customers. But did you know that unique shapes, like logos and business names, can be protected? Welcome to the interesting world of shaped trademarks.

Building a brand potential is an ongoing process, not a final destination. It’s all about consistency, plan of action, and honesty. If you embrace these concepts, you’ll be on your path to realizing your brand potential. Take note that in the realm of branding, the smallest things make the biggest effect. So, continue to refine, iterate, and, most importantly, believe in your brand’s mission.

Unlocking Brand Potential
Registering Goods’ Unique Shapes as Trademarks

Product shapes, also referred to as “shape marks,” may be protected as trademarks in India under the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999, subject to specific restrictions and limitations. Shape marks can be used to protect a three-dimensional shape, distinctive shape of good, packaging, the product itself, or its appearance. The forms may also have labels, word or metaphorical elements.

How to Own the shape of your product: Trademark Protection for Brand Potential:

Trademarks safeguard distinctive indicators that differentiate one entity’s products or services from others. While most trademarks are word marks or logos, the shape of goods can also be registered as a trademark.

To register the shape of goods as a trademark for Brand Potential, it must meet certain criteria:

  • Distinctiveness: The shape must be distinctive and capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of others. It should not be a common or functional shape that is essential to the product’s function.
  • Non-functionality: The shape must not serve a purely functional purpose. In other words, it should not be essential to the use or purpose of the product.
  • Capable of representation: The shape must be capable of being represented graphically, usually through drawings or images, to enable clear identification of the mark.
  • Not generic: The shape must not be a generic or commonly used shape for the type of product in question.
  • Source Identifier: Consumers should associate the shape with a specific brand or origin.

Examples of shape trademarks for brand potential includes:

  • Coca-Cola Bottle Shape: The unique contour shape of Coca-Cola’s glass bottle is a well-known shape mark. It’s distinct and instantly recognizable, helping consumers identify the product as originating from Coca-Cola.
  • Toblerone Chocolate Bar: The triangular shape of Toblerone’s chocolate bars, with its distinct peaks and valleys, serves as a shape mark for the brand. This shape is associated with Toblerone’s Swiss chocolate and helps distinguish it from other chocolate bars.
  • LEGO Brick: The shape of LEGO bricks, with their interlocking studs and tubes, is a protected shape mark. This design is distinctive to LEGO building blocks and helps consumers identify LEGO products.
  • iPhone Silhouette: The sleek and minimalist design of the iPhone, characterized by its rounded edges, home button (in older models), and distinctive camera placement, can be considered a shape mark for Apple. The silhouette of an iPhone is instantly recognizable and associated with Apple’s smartphones.

Registering a shape mark offers several benefits for brand potential:

  • Exclusive Rights: Registration provides the owner with exclusive rights to use the shape mark in connection with the specified goods or services. This prevents competitors from using a similar shape that may confuse consumers or dilute the brand’s distinctiveness.
  • Legal Protection: Registration strengthens the legal protection of the shape mark, making it easier for the owner to enforce their rights against infringing parties through legal actions such as infringement lawsuits or opposition proceedings.
  • Brand Recognition: A registered shape mark enhances brand recognition and consumer loyalty by associating a unique shape with the owner’s products or services. Over time, consumers come to recognize and trust the distinctive shape, which can lead to increased sales and market share.
  • Marketing Advantage: A registered shape mark can be a valuable marketing tool, helping to differentiate the owner’s products from competitors’ offerings. It can also serve as a visual symbol of quality and authenticity, attracting consumers who seek out trusted brands.
  • Asset Value: A registered shape mark can have significant value as an intangible asset of the business. It can be licensed to third parties for use in exchange for royalties or included as part of the company’s intellectual property portfolio, increasing its overall value.
  • Global Protection: For businesses operating internationally, registering a shape mark provides protection in multiple jurisdictions, helping to safeguard the brand potential, identity and market position on a global scale.
  • Deterrent Effect: The existence of a registered shape mark can deter potential infringers from using similar shapes, as they are aware of the legal consequences and risks associated with infringement.

Shape marks can provide valuable protection for companies & brand potential, as they help consumers associate a specific shape with a particular brand or source of goods. However, obtaining registration for shape marks can be more challenging than for traditional word or logo marks, as they often face scrutiny regarding distinctiveness and functionality.

The registration of a shape mark provides more comprehensive protection than a typical 2D trademark; yet, the procedure is neither difficult nor impossible to complete in so far, the formalities are complied with.

How you can acquire a Shape Mark for brand potential:


We at PLEADMASTERS offers end-to-end services for quickly registering a shape mark for your business, leveraging our considerable experience serving clients globally. Our legal experts in IP laws ready to guide you through the complexities of Trademarks, Patents, & Copyrights. Our team of dedicated professionals is not only highly trained but also deeply passionate about delivering comprehensive, personalised & innovative legal solutions.

To know more refer the below;

Sumer Singh Bhati


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