You can trademark the design of a building if it has a widely recognizable and visually unique design. In addition, the design of the building should be part of its brand identity. You must also own the design of the building.Keep reading to discover more about building design, trademarking the design of a building, the benefits of doing so, and how to apply for a trademark.
What Is a Building Design?
A building design is a look, packaging, and visual appearance of the interior and exterior of the building. The design applies to different structures, including churches, office blocks, residential houses, etc.To develop the design of a building, the architect or designer sits down with the client. He listens to the client’s vision and requirements for the new building and then translates the client’s needs and vision into a design. The client has to approve the final design of a building. After the client has approved, the construction can start.
Defining a TrademarkA is a protected sign or symbol that distinguishes one thing from the other. For example, the trademark of WhatsApp is very different from the trademark of Facebook. The two cannot be confused. Trademark laws protect a trademark. A trademark is protected under intellectual property rights. (IP) is anything that is a creation of the mind, and its use is for commercial purposes. It includes any of the following (and more):
- Artistic works
Trademarking the Design of a BuildingThe design of a building is eligible for registration as a trademark. A building with a unique and widely recognizable design can apply for a trademark. The idea is to prevent others from copying the design of the building in any way or using the design for commercial gain. If someone copies the design in any way, people might confuse the copied building design with the original one. The original owner of the design could suffer losses due to the confusion. In addition, the trademark prevents other people from exploiting the design of the building and benefiting financially from the exploitation.
Building Designs Eligible for TrademarksAlthough you can trademark the design of a building, there is a caveat. Not all building designs are eligible for a trademark. For a building design to become eligible for a trademark, the building’s design must be widely recognizable. By recognizable, we mean that when people see the building, they associate it with a particular business, organization, etc. The design should also be visually unique. A visually unique design means that there is no other design like it anywhere else. In addition, you must put the building to commercial use. If the building is not already in commercial use, you should show in good faith your intent to use it in commerce in the future.
Benefits of Trademark HoldersOnce the design of a building gets a trademark, the trademark holder enjoys some benefits. Below are some of them:
- They get exclusive rights to use the trademark. So, if someone infringes on the trademark by using it for commercial gain, the trademark holder can sue the infringer. The holder can be paid damages for the infringement. In some instances, the courts give the infringer’s illegal activities’ profits to the trademark holder.
- Additionally, nobody else is allowed to build a building like yours because their structure could be confused with yours. You could also lose business as people might think that you have opened another branch. You might also lose credibility, especially if the products or services offered in the other building are of inferior quality.
- If someone copies your design, you can sue them for infringement on your trademark. If the construction of the building has not started, you could ask the court to give an injunction to stop the constructor from going ahead. If the building works have already begun, you could ask the court to halt continued construction. On top of that, you can demand damages.
Examples of Buildings Whose Designs Have TrademarksMany building owners have acquired trademarks for the designs of their buildings. Below are a few examples:
- The Transamerica Building has a silhouette, triangular tower that is very famous. The owners got a trademark because the design of the building is visually unique. The design is also associated with the financial services that Transamerica provides.
- The Taj Mahal Palace in India got a trademark in 2017. IHCL owns the building. The building is visually unique because of its grand exterior. It also has a Florentine gothic dome with red tiles. It was the first building in India to get a design trademark.
- Apple got a trademark for the design of its retail store. Although Apple does not own buildings in every country, they got a trademark that covers the interior design of their stores worldwide. The trademark protects the shelving, floor arrangement, glass storefront, etc. So, no other business should use their interior design.