Practice Areas


Johnson Interviewed on Trade Dress


The “look and feel” of a product or service you produce or offer may be covered by an intellectual property tool called trade dress.  Black’s Law Dictionary defines trade dress as “[t]he overall appearance and image in the marketplace of a product or a commercial enterprise.”  Packaging and labeling are two examples of trade dress.

IP attorney and Eastman & Smith member Carrie A. Johnson discusses trade dress issues in the International Trademark Association article, “One More Tool in the Brand Protection Toolbox.”  According to the article, reasons to consider using trade dress include protecting assets from other using “confusingly similar” brands and enforcing IP protections.  Your trade dress needs to be both nonfunctional and distinctive to receive protection under US law.  Ms. Johnson explains, “Recent decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits are good examples of unpredictable outcomes in litigation—essentially barring trade dress protection for any product feature that is ‘useful.’ There continues to be uncertainty for brand owners of trade dress that can be argued to have any potential ‘useful’ aspect to it.”  The article continues with problems and solutions associated with trade dress.

Protecting brands is the heart of Ms. Johnson’s practice. For 20 years, she has assisted clients with protecting and defending their most important assets and brands.  Should you have any questions regarding trade dress or other IP matters, please contact Ms. Johnson.