Can I Trademark an Acronym?
Last Updated: 10/22/2017
You can trademark an acronym provided that you use it as the brand name for your products or services. For example, “AT&T” is a registered trademark for a line of telephone products and services. In order to trademark an acronym your company must use the acronym to identify its goods or services. Additionally, the acronym must be distinct to qualify; a generic acronym will likely be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Examples of Acronym Trademarks
Businesses that you’ve likely heard of many times are great examples of trademarked acronyms. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
CVSWith locations across the country, it’s likely you’ve seen a CVS. The Wikipedia page gives a great summary: “CVS sells prescription drugs and a wide assortment of general merchandise, including over-the-counter drugs, beauty products and cosmetics, film and photo finishing services, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards, and convenience foods through their CVS Pharmacy and Longs Drugs retail stores and online through CVS.com. It also provides healthcare services through its more than 1,100 MinuteClinic medical clinics as well as their Diabetes Care Centers. Most of these clinics are located within CVS stores.” (Source) CVS has registered a series of marks to protect their brand, from “CVS Health” to “CVS Speciality”. But the name, with all its current forms, started out as Customers Value Service.
From their Wikipedia page, “Founded in the United States in 1969 to deliver documents between San Francisco and Honolulu; the company expanded its service throughout the world by the late 1970s. The company was primarily interested in offshore and inter-continental deliveries, but the success of FedEx prompted their own intra-US expansion starting in 1983.” (Source)
Before it was a shipping company known around the globe, DHL started out as the collaboration between Larry Hillblom and his friends Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn. When it came time to name the company, they simply looked to their last names.
Ready to Register Your Trademark?
When you are considering trademarking a acronym, it is important to check if there is an outstanding trademark on a similar acronym. If there is a similar trademark, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will likely reject your application. If you trademark an acronym it will not prevent conversational use as trademarks protect a company from imitation by competitors.
If you would like to evaluate and review your acronym trademarking options, contact our associates today.
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