February 2019. Sometimes companies can use a simple geometrical shape as a trademark. Choosing something as straightforward as that is both easy and practical. But it can also give rise to problems, given that these kinds of trademark are difficult to register.


After all, in order to qualify for registration, a trademark has to be distinctive. And both the European Trademark Office EUIPO and the Benelux Trademark Office apply the strict rule that simple geometrical shapes aren’t distinctive enough in themselves and therefore can’t be claimed as trademarks.

Where do the boundaries lie?

But where exactly do the boundaries lie? Precisely which simple geometrical shapes are regarded as not distinctive? Chiever did some research into trademarks that were recently found too simple and insufficiently distinctive – and therefore not eligible for trademark protection.


Here are a few tips:

  • If you can, don’t go for a device mark that’s too simple

But if you do:

  • Add some colours, which can sometimes help (but not always; see above)
  • When you register your simple logo, make sure you combine it with the trademark name
  • Alternatively, consider registering the shape as a design (to which the strict criterion of distinctive capacity doesn’t apply)
  • And be aware that it will always be difficult to keep competitors at bay.

Bas Kist