Fluid Trademarks - What you need to know

Posted on 06 Jul 2020, by Agis Charalambous

We have recently seen two of the biggest global brands bringing about arguably some small changes but with enormous effect. Volkswagen appears to have distanced the two letters comprising their logo i.e. V and W in their YouTube video, and the McDonalds brand did the same thing in between their golden M arch by splitting the mark into two arches.

Nevertheless, this phenomenon is not new. Trademark fluidity has been around since the advent of the internet. Ranging from Perrier’s bold move, as then thought, to change its wordmark as a whole, to make it more appealing to younger generations or in the infinite doodle changes to the Google mark.

Fluid marks can be thought of as different variations to the original conventional mark which in turn transforms the mark into a living thing as it changes over time, with a dynamic presentation giving the opportunity to the brand to adapt to this fast-changing environment. Fluid marks vary from simple decorations (such as Google’s Doodles), reinterpretations of the mark in different media channels (such as the Absolut Vodka Bottle mark) or even to background switching (such as the well-known Nickelodeon wordmark).

So fluid marks offer some flexibility to the way businesses manage their brand, however, designing a fluid mark should not be made in isolation. Brand owners must be cautious when making changes to their trademark as there is a real danger of confusing consumers, diluting the trademark or even turning it into a generic mark and thus losing the much-needed protection. Below we suggest some basic points to note before expanding a mark:

  • Identify the core characteristics (such as colour, type of font, specific word or graphic element) of the word or figurative mark that serve as the primary identifiers of the brand.
  • Ensure that the basis for the fluid mark – the word or figurative mark (as above) - is strong, distinctive and registered.
  • Keep the mark as clear as possible.
  • Bear in mind the context and physical location in which the mark is displayed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. For any further information please contact Agis Charalambous, Head of IP at IP@kyprianou.com