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James D. Crosby, Attorney at Law. Complex and General Business Litigation and Trial Representation. San Diego, California. O: (619) 450-4149 C: (858) 705-0083 Email: crosby@crosbyattorney.com

Trademark Refresher:  What is a Family of Marks?

James D. Crosby, Attorney at Law - Complex and General Business Litigation and Trial Representation - San Diego, California

Another interesting IP post from my partner Doug Lytle – What is a “family of marks?”

Takes On Law

A family of marks is a group of marks (e.g., MCNUGGETS, MCSKILLET, MCCAFE, MCGRIDDLES) having a recognizable formative common characteristic (e.g., MC), wherein the marks are composed and used in such a way that the public associates not only the individual marks, but the common characteristic of the family, with the trademark owner (e.g., McDonalds Corp).

Simply using a series of similar marks, however, does not of itself establish the existence of a family of marks.  Courts and the USPTO consider the use, advertisement, and distinctiveness of the marks, as well as how the common feature contributes to the purchasing public’s recognition of the marks as being of common origin.  To demonstrate such recognition, an owner must show that the marks comprising the family have been advertised or used in everyday sales activities in such a way so as to create common exposure and recognition of common…

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