Can Common Acronyms Obtain Trademark Protection


Acronyms are developed using the first letter of each word, they are simply the abbreviation of the word phrase or series of words.

Acronyms or abbreviations usually seems to be a simple solution for branding problems But they are usually considered to be bad trademark for companies as they often lose their distinctiveness. Companies like IBM,KFC and MTV have trademark protection but they have lost their distinctiveness over the period of time And hence it is recommended to include brand name which is distinctive and something to which people are able to associate the services and product with.

Most trademark registered are either a word, logo or a certain phrase but now acronyms are also gaining popularity as trademark.

How to maintain enforce ability of Acronym as Trademark?

To avoid your acronym mark to fall into’generic’category it is important that stringent measures should be taken up by the trademark owner.

  • Register the acronym as trademark.
  • Use relevant symbol along with the trademark, depending upon the status of the application. For registered trademark ® symbol must be used and for the mark for which application is pending symbol must be used.
  • The trademark for your company should always be used as adjective rather than noun.


While applying for Acronym as Trademark following precautions must be used:

Acronym as trademark can some time amount to trademark infringement and hence it is always recommended to conduct Trademark Search prior to filing application for trademark registration for an acronym.

Make Sure that the acronyms used for the company are distinctive, even if the acronym is derived from something that is generic the meaning should be distinctive; this means that  the underlying meaning should be different.

Scope of Protection for Acronym

For incorporating descriptive trademark one should always implement considerable care and caution. Common abbreviations are extensively used in our day to day life and hence are usually considered descriptive and synonymous.

Registration of acronyms as trademark is not confined to well-known brands and hence it is always recommended to always conduct an in-depth trademark search for the same .

It is important that the acronym being registered as a mark by the company be used by them to distinguish their goods and services and it should also indicate towards the source of the product.

Recent Attempt at Trademark Registration of Acronyms

  • Procter & Gamble (P&G) has recently filed trademark registration of words WTF, LOL and FML; Procter & Gamble is the fastest growing moving product company and hence their registration of these acronyms comes as a surprise to people all around the globe.

These all terms are acronyms used by millennial. The attempt to file trademark registration for acronyms is said to be their marketing attempt to attract the new generation.

  • Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) had applied for acronym VIT as trademark with the trademark office in year 2002. The office finding the trademark application apt accepted the trademark application and provided them with trademark protection.

The plaintiff came to know about the use of name VIT by Vivekananda institute of technology  through an online source and hence filed trademark infringement case against them after duly submitting notice to not the use the acronym.

Vellore Institute of Technology submitted a contention with the court that the mark of the university is well-known among people in India as well as with foreign nationals hence the court laid down the judgement stating that the mark of the institute is well-known hence the right to use the mark commercially lies with the plaintiff.


The companies are now seeking trademark registration for acronyms as in the modern society abbreviating long phrases into smaller syllables makes it easily recalled and it also accommodates towards the ever-quickening pace of their lifestyle.

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