Life is Good Learned the Hard Way that Font Style Matters

The goal of every trademark applicant should be to secure the broadest scope of rights possible. One way to achieve this is to rely on the standard character form drawing when filing a trademark application instead of the particular font style used for the literal portion of the mark. We talked about the standard character form drawing in a prior post. However, sometimes protecting the font style used in a trademark makes business sense to do.

Life is Good used a unique font style for its LIFE IS GOOD logo that resonated with consumers. In fact, the font style became something consumers relied on to distinguish LIFE IS GOOD goods and services from others. In 2015, Life is Good substituted the unique font style for a more traditional typeface. This seemingly small change had a large impact on the brand’s image.

The main purpose of the mark drawing is to provide notice of the nature of the mark sought to be registered.  The drawing of a mark is promptly entered into the automated records of the USPTO and is available to the public through the Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS”) and the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (“TSDR”) database on the USPTO website. A special form drawing is required if words, letters, or numerals are presented in a distinctive form that engenders an uncommon or “special” commercial impression that would be altered or lost if the registration issued based on a standard character drawing.

A trademark applicant employing a unique font style that it recognizes consumers rely on to distinguish its goods or services from those of another company should protect both the literal portion of its mark in a standard character form and its stylized form. The reason to protect the stylized form in this circumstance is that it makes a potential enforcement matter more easy if the infringer adopts a similar typeface as well. But if you don’t know if consumers will rely on the typeface to distinguish your goods or services from others, then just stick with the standard character drawing.

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