Practices/Industries

Product Design & Trade Dress

Some of the world’s most recognizable brands turn to Sutherland to protect and enforce their product design and trade dress rights.

Product design and trade dress represent key aspects of intellectual property. Sutherland attorneys make sure clients can leverage and protect them.

Sutherland attorneys advise clients who hold some of the world’s most recognizable brands about product design and trade dress strategy, protection and enforcement. Well-known brands utilize more than just catchy names and visually appealing logos for instant, invaluable customer recognition. They also develop brand recognition through proprietary product designs and trade dress, such as unique color combinations, product shapes and themes for product lines. Businesses need experienced and knowledgeable attorneys to guide them through the process of developing distinctive designs and brand images that qualify for protection and to enforce their intellectual property rights.

Our IP attorneys help clients achieve their business objectives and strategies by protecting and enforcing proprietary product designs, trade dress and all other aspects of the IP portfolios. Our attorneys command a deep understanding about how trade dress—which encompasses the overall appearance or total image of a business and its products—can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), just like logos and words. We guide clients through the subtle distinctions of trade dress law, which pertains to visual appearance of a product or packaging, not its functional aspects.

Sutherland’s team has decades of legal and relevant industry experience and substantive technical knowledge. And when it comes to protecting and defending IP, our lawyers have proven trial skills. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in trials and legal proceedings around the globe, including state, federal and foreign courts; arbitration and mediation; and in administrative proceedings before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the USPTO and international patent offices.

Why Sutherland

Decades of experience. Our attorneys have spent years protecting some of the world’s most recognizable brands, so we are well-versed in best practices and strategies for protecting a company’s product design and trade dress rights.

Technical knowledge. Of our approximately 30 dedicated IP attorneys, most are registered patent attorneys who provide counseling and representation in all aspects of national and international patent law. Many of our lawyers also hold specialized or advanced degrees in technical fields.

Global reach. Along with securing trade dress registration domestically, we utilize our extensive network of international law firms to ensure our clients’ rights are protected throughout the world. Our significant experience protecting global product design and trade dress rights enables us to provide efficient and expedient service.

In-house and regulatory backgrounds. Our attorneys served in-house with some of the world’s major brand owners and creators, and other attorneys served as examining attorneys at the USPTO. This gives us unique insights into clients’ business goals and strategies and regulatory officials’ priorities.

Litigation experience. Our IP attorneys represent both plaintiffs and defendants across the country in the full range of IP litigation services, including trade dress and trademark infringement suits. We also represent clients before administrative agencies, such as the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Complete range of IP services. Sutherland’s Intellectual Property Practice Group provides the full range of services that clients need to protect and maximize their intellectual property rights. We work with clients to develop or acquire, prosecute and defend their unique marks, proprietary technologies, ways of doing business and original works.

Multidisciplinary firm. We work closely with consumer product innovators to secure commercial platforms that enable them to advance their goods and services under recognized and emerging brands. We understand that capitalizing on consumer product innovation can involve multiple and varying areas of legal experience beyond intellectual property, including regulatory issues, corporate transactions and tax.

Nuts and Bolts

Sutherland provides the full range of product design and trade dress services for our clients, including:

  • Counseling clients about their choice of product design and trade dress matters, including performing searches to determine availability for use and registration
  • Preparing, filing and prosecuting trade dress applications in the U.S. and abroad
  • Advising on marketing and advertising issues related to product design and trade dress
  • Policing potentially infringing uses of our clients’ IP online and around the world
  • Representing clients in Opposition and Cancellation proceedings before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and advising clients in connection with foreign opposition or cancellation proceedings
  • Supervising trade dress audits and performing due diligence as part of corporate structuring and restructuring
  • Handling issues relating to the transfer of marks or their rights, through license, assignment, security agreement, merger or acquisition
  • Counseling clients to resolve conflicts concerning trade dress infringement and related matters
  • Representing clients in litigation in federal courts throughout the U.S. and before administrative agencies

Take Action

Sutherland helps ensure that customers will continue to recognize products for their distinguishing designs and that companies maintain their strategic product design and trade dress advantages.

Our Story

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

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Washington, DC
Elizabeth S. Cha, Associate
Washington, DC
© 2016 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP / Sutherland (Europe) LLP
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