Friday, May 20, 2022

Sensory Marks II

 A few weeks ago, I posted about sensory marks, which are trademarks (or other marks like service marks) that aren’t words or still images. At the end, I asked about texture marks, proposing that they, too, were important ways to identify goods and services in commerce.

Well, after speaking with the experts at the head PTRC office, I learned that I was not wrong… In part.

Texture marks do exist! My error was my example: AstroTurf wouldn’t qualify for a sensory mark. The feel of AstroTurf is part of its function. While that new, more authentic texture was part of the product's brand identification, a mark cannot be anything that is integral to a product's function (or directly related to how it is manufactured).

Extant texture marks—better described as touch or tactile when searching the TESS—are few. Among those, some used “touch” or “texture” to describe a different sensory experience, like the texture of a sound from a musical chord, or a sound created when using a touch tone telephone (service mark 3394190). After filtering out the unrelated results, there were 12 touch marks, three of which were registered, and only one still live.

List of 18 results for the texture mark search in TESS
List of 18 results.

What kind of textures have been included in sensory mark applications?

Most concerned the unique tag or label on a product, such as the frayed edge of a product description card or a leather wine bottle wrapping. Others specified a product’s distinctive texture, the engraving on a handle or a lipstick compared to cashmere material.

I was most interested in three marks that consisted of vibration patterns from a credit card company. None were ever officially registered and all are now dead, but the tactile nature of a vibration pattern can be very distinct and become associated with a product or a service.

The one live, registered touch mark is for faucet aerators. Not what I expected; it’s for the feathered, rubbery feel on the aerator’s outflow end. Read all about the product and see a specimen for it in the full set of status information and related documents.

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