Protecting Your Ideas - What is a “generic” term and can it function as a trademark?


Generic terms are the weakest types of “marks” (and cannot even qualify as “marks” in the legal sense) and are never registrable or enforceable against third parties. Because generic words are the common, everyday name for goods and services and everyone has the right to use such terms to refer to their goods and services, they are not protectable.

For example, the term “toy store” can never function as a service mark for toy store services. A generic term cannot be registered with the USPTO and cannot be protected.