A non-conventional trademark (also nontraditional trademark) is any new type of trademark which does not belong to a pre-existing, conventional category of trade mark, and which is often difficult to register, but which nevertheless fulfills the essential trademark function of uniquely identifying the commercial origin of products or services.
The term is broadly inclusive as it encompasses marks which do not fall into the conventional set of marks (eg. those consisting of letters, numerals, words, logos, pictures, symbols, or combinations of one or more of these elements), and therefore includes marks based on appearance, shape, sound, smell, taste and texture.
Certain types of non-conventional trademarks have become more widely accepted in recent times as a result of legislative changes which expand the definition of 'trademark'. Such developments are the result of international treaties dealing with intellectual property, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which sets down a standardised, inclusive legal definition. Single colour trademarks, shape trademarks (also known as three dimensional trademarks or 3D trademarks ), and sound trademarks (also known as aural trademarks ), are examples of such marks.
Although smell trademarks (also known as scent trademarks ), are sometimes specifically mentioned in legislative definitions of 'trademark', it is often difficult to register such marks if consistent, non-arbitrary and meaningful graphic representations of the marks cannot be produced.
Presenting further difficulties are entirely new types of marks which, despite growing commercial adoption in the marketplace, are typically very difficult to register, often because they are not formally recognised as a 'trademark'. Examples of such marks are moving image marks (also known as animated marks , moving marks , or movement marks). Many web browsers feature a moving image mark in the top right hand corner of the browser screen which is visible when the browser is in the process of resolving a website.
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