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Are slogans protectable as trademarks?

Slogans are pithy advertising phrases/claims. They draw increased attention. How can such advertising slogans be protected under trademark law?

Slogans vs. Trademark

Advertising slogans/claims can be informative, emotional, entertaining or even provocative. The decisive factor is that a thought process is initiated in the recipient. The advertising slogan should be associated with the company behind it “for all eternity”. The core function of a slogan is therefore the identification of a company combined with increased memorability. Trademarks are classically protected signs (words and/or images) with which companies distinguish their goods or services from those of third parties. The essential function of trademarks is therefore their identification and distinctive power. Consequently, the functions of slogans and trademarks overlap. Can any slogan be protected as a trademark?

Trademark requirements for slogans

In principle, slogans can be registered as trademarks. The usual requirements under trademark law are also applicable to slogans. Therefore, advertising slogans do not enjoy protection under trademark law if, for example, they describe the purpose of the company, contain advertising, are simple invitations to buy or contain phrases that are customary in the industry. Consequently, slogans can be registered as trademarks if they contain mere allusions to the company’s activities or if their descriptive character is not obvious. For example, the Federal Supreme Court has ruled that the slogan of a well-known cheese manufacturer “EIN STÜCK SCHWEIZ” cannot be protected as a trademark. In contrast, the trademark authority allowed trademark protection for the slogans “METTEZ UN TIGRE DANS VOTRE MOTEUR” for fuel or “CATS WOULD BUY WHISKAS!” for pet food. Similarly, the trademark authority registered “RIGHT BE ADVISED. LEGAL MATTERS.®”as a protected trademark.

Advertising slogans can be registered as word marks. Whether the trademark is registered or rejected by the authorities depends on the slogan. A prior trademark-law assessment (and, if necessary, informal preliminary examination) is therefore essential. We discuss with you possible risk scenarios for absolute claims (“SKA – für alle da” is meanwhile also valid for C-managers from all over the world). In this way, your advertising slogan will not become a downfall in times of crisis or negative reporting.

We will be happy to advise you on the legal admissibility of your slogan. We support and represent you for the entire application procedure. Because our slogan is: FREUDE AM BERATEN®  – We render mitochondrial® legal advice.

AMATIN AG  Rechtsanwälte / Rechtsberatung  │  Attorneys at Law / Counselors  │  Conseiller Juridiques / Avocats

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Mariel WalleserMLaw / IP and Life Sciences Lawyer
+41 61 202 91 91

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Verena ErderAssistant, Paralegal, IT- and Data-Manager
+41 61 202 91 91


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