If you’ve built a business, then you know that it takes a lot of hard work to differentiate yourself from your competitors. There are many ways to do tis, including having competitive prices and strong customer service. Another way to do so is to develop intellectual property that is distinctive. Oftentimes, this intellectual property takes the form of trademarks and copyrights, which allows you to protect against unauthorized use of the property in question. But these protections aren’t the only ones afforded to business owners.

Trade dress protection may also be available to Florida businesses. Trade dress is similar to trademark, but slightly different. While a trademark generally provides protection to a mark that is source-identifying, trade dress is more encompassing. With trade dress, the way a product is presented may be protected. This includes the materials that are used to create a product, the way the product is packaged, and its design. Even the appearance of a business may be protected as trade dress.

What is important to keep in mind is that in order for trade dress to be protected it has to be distinctive and have source-identifying characteristics. This means that when people see the trade dress they associate it with your business. Additionally, the trade dress must be nonfunctional, meaning that it cannot be essential to the use of the product. The non-functionality requirement seeks to prevent products from monopolizing their field by granting protection to features that all products in that field need in order to be used.

Trade dress is an interesting and oftentimes complex area of intellectual property law. Yet, those who are able to obtain trade dress protection can increase the value of their products and their business as a whole. Those who need guidance in securing this protection and policing it may want to think about seeking out legal assistance.