Intellectual property is very important in business. Think about all of the little details that make your business stand out: your name, your logo, your package design. Each of these has protection under U.S. law. It is essential for any North Carolina business owner to understand intellectual property protections. Most people are familiar with trademarks, patents and copyrights, but do you understand the protections available for trade dress?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office explains trade dress is the packaging of your product. It also includes the design and elements that make up your product. This may include the graphics, color combinations, shape, texture and size of your packaging and product. Generally, anything that is meaningful to your product is its trade dress.

Trade dress is a type of trademark, so when you get protection for your trade dress, you are essentially getting trademark protection. Some elements of trade dress may also fall under a design patent. If you are trying to protect the overall design of your packaging, then you may get patent protection instead of trademark protection. However, if you are trying to protect certain elements of the design of your packaging, such as colors used or a symbol, then you will probably get trademark protection.

Trade dress can be a little confusing since it overlaps some areas of intellectual property distinctions. The bottom line, though, is that this protection is similar to other intellectual property protections. It allows you to protect against the use of your trade dress by another person or company. This information is for education and is not legal advice.