Types of trademarks

Last updated: 17.12.2019. This publication fully complies with the provisions of the new Law on Marks and Geographical Indications, promulgated on 13.12.2019.

A number of publications about trademarks have been published on the law firm’s website, such as trademark registration procedure, conducting preliminary trademark research, absolute grounds for refusal of registration of a trademark and many more.

The purpose of this publication is to present different types of trademarks by grouping them according to different criteria for distinguishing different types of marks. Of course, before presenting the types of trademarks, it is necessary to clarify what a trademark is. A trademark is a sign used to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another sign used to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and can be presented in the State Register of Marks in such a way that it is possible to clearly and accurately determine the subject of the protection granted with the registration. Such signs may be words, including names of persons; letters; numerals; drawings; figures; the shape of goods or of their packaging; a combination of colors; sound signals or any combination of such signs. With the adoption of the new Law on Marks and Geographical Indications, the requirement for graphical representation of the trademarks has been removed. 

Types of trademarks

There are different types of marks depending on different criteria for distinguishing them.

1. According to their legal status, the marks are:

Registered – the mark has been registered and its proprietor has acquired the right to the mark.

Non-registered – contrary to the registered mark, the mark has not been registered and its holder has not acquired the right to the mark. These are:

  • Trademarks that have been applied for registration – where the registration procedure has been initiated, but the procedure has not yet been completed.
  • Trademarks for which no registration procedure was initiated (no application was filed) or registration was refused on absolute or relative grounds for refusal.

2. According to their way of presentation, the marks are the following types:

Wordmarks – word marks consist exclusively of words or letters, numbers or letters or other written characters, or a combination of them, which can be typed.

Figurative marks – these are characters that consist exclusively of figurative elements.

Combined marks – combined marks consist of a word and a figurative element.

Three-dimensional marks – they represent the shape of the product or its packaging in the three-dimensional form.

Sound marks – these marks consist exclusively of sound or a combination of sounds. At the moment, the national sound trademarks are represented graphically through notes. With the removal of the requirement for graphic representation of marks as of 1 October 2017, applications for registration of European Union trademarks may consist solely of an audio file that reproduces the sound, or the accurate presentation of the sound through musical notes.

Multimedia marks – these marks consist of a combination of images and sound.

Hologram marks – the characteristic of holographic marks is that they consist of elements with holographic features.

Position marks – in the case of position marks the peculiarity is in the specific way in which the mark is affixed to the good. It must be presented on the product in its correct position and proportions. The rest of the goods must be visually excluded by dashed lines.

Motion marks – these marks consist of movement or represent movement or change in the position of the elements of the mark.

Pattern marks – consist exclusively of a regularly repeated set of elements.

Color marks – consist exclusively of one color.

A combination of colors – consist exclusively of a combination of colors.

Smell marks – represent a scent subjectively perceived by the smell of the relevant consumer, which also makes it possible to subsequently identify certain goods and/or services offered by a particular person. Smell marks are one of the most difficult and unconventional signs that can be represented graphically, which is why smell marks are rarely registered.

Other types of marks – these are trademarks that do not fit into any of the categories listed above. They must be presented in any appropriate form, using commonly available technologies, as long as they can be reproduced in the register in a clear, accurate, easily accessible and objective manner, in order to enable the competent authorities and the public to determine the subject matter of the protection granted to its holder.

3. According to their reputation, the marks can be:

Famous marks – these are, by default, unregistered trademarks with a certain level of publicity, determined by the level of public access of the information among the relevant public. Proprietors of famous trademarks have the opportunity to oppose the registration and/or use of identical or similar marks by others for goods and services that are identical or similar to those for which the famous trademark is used in the public. It is also important to note that in order to exercise this right, the relevant proprietor of a famous trademark must apply for registration of the mark.

Well-known marks (marks with reputation) – these are registered trademarks, where the protection is for different goods and/or services against the unfair advantage of advantage by virtue of the reputation or distinctive character of the mark. Proprietors of well-known marks have the opportunity to oppose the registration and/or use of an identical or similar mark by others for goods and services that are not identical or similar to those for which the mark with a reputation is registered.

  • Regarding famous EU trademarks or EU trademarks with a reputation, the reputation must be proven for the territory of the European Union.

4. According to their purpose, the marks can be:

Individual marks – individual marks are intended to identify the goods and/or services of one person from those of another. Most of the existing trademarks are individual.

Collective marks – trademarks owned by an association of producers, traders or persons providing services, which is a legal entity. It distinguishes the goods or services of the members of the Association from the goods or services of others.

Certification marks – certification mark certifies the material, method of manufacture, quality or other characteristics of the goods or services produced or provided by persons with the consent and under the control of the owner of the certification mark.

5. According to territorial protection, the marks can be:

National – trademarks registered in the respective national intellectual property office.

Regional – such marks are the European Union trademarks (European trademark or so-called Community trademark) whose protection shall extend to the territory of all member states of the European Union; such mark is the mark registered at the Benelux Intellectual Property Office (BOIP) and the mark is effective in Belgium, the Netherlands and/or Luxembourg; such mark is also the mark registered at the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization.

International – international trademark registration is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Madrid system consists of the Madrid Agreement and the Protocol Relating to that Agreement, which is why proprietors of trademarks whose products or services are internationally traded have the right to use that system to register their trademarks in countries that are members of the Madrid system. Prior to the establishment of the Madrid system, a local industrial property representative had to be hired in each country to register the mark. The Madrid System facilitates the registration process by filing a single application, as well as the applicant’s ability to hire an industrial property representative (who speaks one of the following languages: English, French or Spanish), who may be from the applicant’s country.

6. According to their registrability:

Fanciful (inherently distinctive) marks – these trademarks have the greatest range of protection, as they are usually fictional words and to the greatest extent fulfill the essential function of the trademark – to distinguish the goods or services of one person from those of others. Examples of such marks are Adidas, Pepsi, and others. The advantage of fanciful marks is that they are legally registered and have the widest range of protection but the main disadvantage is that their owners should put much more money and effort into placing them on the market.

Arbitrary marks – these are signs that have their own meaning, but are used for goods or services that are in no way related to the meaning of the signs. A good example of such a trademark is “Apple” for computers.

Suggestive marks – these trademarks are expressions, word combinations or other combinations of signs and that contain an element that directs users to a characteristic of the goods and/or services but does not describe them directly. It should be kept in mind that their scope of protection is smaller than that of fanciful and arbitrary marks. An example of such marks is “Blu-ray”, a new technology of high-capacity data storage that utilizes a “blue” (actually violet) laser.



This material prepared by Krasimira Kadieva aims to provide more information about types of trademarks. It does not constitute a legal opinion and cannot be interpreted as individual consultation on any concrete facts or circumstances. The advice of an intellectual property specialist should be obtained for specific questions and situations.   For more information on the above-mentioned issues and individual consultations, please contact Krasimira Kadieva at 00359 882 308 670 or make an inquiry using the contact form of this website. Krasimira Kadieva is a Bulgarian and European trademark and design attorney. She offers comprehensive analysis and strategy for the effective protection of trademarks as objects of industrial property, both at the time of registration and in violation of the rights thereto. The IP lawyer in Bulgaria Krasimira Kadieva assists in all types of trademark registrations by providing professional advice and preparation of all necessary documents.

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