An arbitrary trademark is a type of trademark in which the word or phrase being registered has no relationship to the goods or services being offered. For example, “Apple” as a trademark for computers has no relationship to the actual fruit apple. This is in contrast to a suggestive trademark or descriptive trademark, which suggest or describe the goods or services being offered. Arbitrary trademarks are considered to be some of the strongest types of trademarks because they are not descriptive marks or generic marks of the goods or services being offered, and as a result, are less likely to be challenged by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) or the courts for failing to function as a trademark. Additionally, arbitrary trademarks are entitled to the broadest scope of legal protection.
Th following are a few examples of arbitrary trademarks:
“Amazon” for e-commerce and technology
“Apple” for computers
“Shell” for gasoline
“Kodak” for cameras
“BlackBerry” for smartphones
“Adidas” for athletic shoes
“Camel” for cigarettes
In each of these examples, the word or phrase being trademarked has no relationship to the goods or services being offered. “Apple” does not have any relation with the fruit apple, “Camel” doesn’t have anything to do with the animal, “Kodak” doesn’t mean anything in relation to cameras, “Shell” doesn’t relate to seashells, “Amazon” doesn’t relate to the river or the jungle. Same goes for “Adidas” and “BlackBerry” as well. Because of this, these trademarks are considered to be arbitrary, and are some of the strongest types of trademarks.
Like fanciful trademarks, an arbitrary trademark falls on the highest end of the spectrum of distinctiveness and this is why trademark selection is so important. The spectrum of distinctiveness is a way of categorizing trademarks based on how closely they are related to the goods or services being offered. At one end of the spectrum are generic terms, which are not eligible for trademark protection because they are too closely related to the goods or services being offered. At the other end of the spectrum are arbitrary trademarks, which are not closely related to the goods or services being offered and are therefore considered to be some of the strongest types of trademarks.