Clothing Trademark Registration

In the fashion industry, product labeling is everything. Whether it is Louis Vuitton or Chanel, all famous
clothing brands are zealous in protecting against the unauthorized use of their name. This is because the label attached to your clothing is what identifies your brand name and sets your brand apart from the numerous other clothing brands available on today’s market.

Avoid Ornamental Trademark Use

Often you’ll see a large design on the front of a shirt used as a decorative feature. This constitutes ornamental use not trademark use. “Matter that is purely ornamental or decorative does not function as a trademark and is unregistrable.” Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure. As a result, when you want your design to be associated as a trademark you need to ensure that consumers recognize it as a source identifier and not merely a decorative feature on the clothing. There are actions you can take to make sure you’re using the mark as a trademark:

  1. Don’t display the logo or design on the front of the shirt in large font. Or if you do, make sure you also use one of the other options listed below.
  2. Use an attached label that includes the logo or design.
  3. Use a price tag that includes the logo or design.
  4. If selling clothing on a website, include the design in the header portion of the website, and have a shopping cart checkout for consumers.
  5. Use a small image of the mark on the clothing, typically, on a breast pocket (or in a similar vicinity).
  6. Include the design on product packaging.

To see excellent examples of valid specimens please click here for USPTO instructions/samples of specimens.

Trademark Examples Showing Ornamental Use

Ornamental Use – Not a valid specimen


Trademark Use (Non-ornamental Use) – Valid specimen


Protect Your Name

Obtaining a trademark to protect the name of your clothing brand will be one of the most important steps you take in starting your business. Whether you are a clothing designer, clothing manufacturer or a clothing retailer, a trademark is perhaps the most valuable piece of property your company will own.

Your customers expect the product they bought with your label to match what they expect from previous purchases of your product. It would be bad for business to leave the opportunity open for another person to take your name and start selling inferior product lines with your label as well as obtaining the right to do so through common law. Quality confusion can hurt your brand. Trademark registration can help prevent confusion.

Trademark Registration Protects You Against Lawsuits

A trademark is also important in the fashion industry because it helps to prevent future threats of litigation for infringement. By not protecting your name with a federally registered trademark now, you open yourself up to the potential of trademark infringement lawsuits in the future. When you own the rights to your name with a federal trademark it makes it much more difficult to sue you later for infringement. You are too busy figuring out new ways to market your brand and increase brand recognition to bother with a lawsuit. You also do not want to be financially ruined by the expense of lawyers and court costs in fighting a trademark infringement lawsuit.

When registering clothing there are a number of aspects you need to consider, including similarity to famous marks, ornamental usage, and proper specimen requirements, among others. If you need assistance with trademarking your clothing brand, give us a call or sign up below.