Suggestive trademarks are trademarks that merely suggest the qualities or functions of a good or service. A couple of examples of suggestive trademarks are “Public Eye” and “Streetwise.” These two marks do not describe what the product does, but do suggest that they are a weekly celebrity tabloid magazine or a collection of maps.
Suggestive trademarks fall below arbitrary trademarks and fanciful trademarks in degree of trademark protection, but above descriptive trademarks. Where a descriptive trademark would lead the consumer by the hand, a suggestive trademark would lead the consumer by the consumer’s mind. The trademark suggests certain characteristics of the good or service which a consumer can only establish the association through imagination and reflection of the mind. One test to help determine if a trademark is suggestive or descriptive is called the “degree of imagination” test. This means that if a trademark communicates information directly, then it will most likely be seen as descriptive, but if the trademark stands for an idea which requires some thought or imagination to associate the trademark to the goods or service, then it is most likely suggestive.
As long as the quality of the good or service is not instantly apparent and the consumer must reflect and using thought or imagination to determine the characteristics of the good or service, the trademark will be deemed suggestive and valid.
Examples of trademarks that have been ruled suggestive by courts: