Trademarks are a form of intellectual property that can help propel a business into success. Famous trademarks have the power to influence a consumer’s decision to buy a product or service and can be extremely beneficial. The following are well known famous trademarks most consumers recognize. Also, check out our article on recognized patents.
It is quite simple to register a trademark yourself. By following our 4 steps to trademark, it is possible to complete the trademark application process without the help of a trademark attorney.
On March 8, 2011, Apple Inc. was registered with the USPTO (trademark registration number 3928818). The founders of the company, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founded the Apple Computer Company in 1976. A man named Ronald Wayne was also an original founder, however after two weeks, he decided to leave, selling his stake of the company for a mere $800.
The tech giant Apple has many pending and registered trademarks. The Apple logo (an apple with a bite taken from it) was first used in 1977, one year after the company was founded. The original logo was Isaac Newton sitting under a tree and is actually how the apple logo came to be. The Apple logo was filed in seven different technology or software categories. It is also now incorporated into other Apple trademarks: Apple News, Apple Store, Apple Music, and AppleCare.
Apple has trademarked the product name of basically every product they manufacture. Some of the most popular products that are trademarked are the MacBook, iPhone, iPod, iPad, AirPods, AirTag, Apple Watch, and many more. Apple trademarks their softwares as well such as iCloud, MacOS, iTunes, Apple Pay, Airdrop, CarPlay, FaceID, Siri, Live Photos, and more. Apple also trademarks applications they have developed such as FaceTime, Find My, HealthKit, HomeKit, Safari, and more. There are even trademarked Apple fonts like Chicago, Textile, Charcoal, or Sand.
On October 22, 1979, Microsoft was registered with the USPTO in seven categories and has since become a billion dollar company. Founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in April of 1975 with Gates as the CEO. Allen suggested the company name and future mark “Microsoft” with its first use in 1975 (trademark registration number 1200236).
The company has almost 1,000 trademarks registered in addition to their company name. Just like Apple, the Microsoft logos are also registered trademarks. The Microsoft logo has gone through many phases, specifically 5 corporate changes. The most recent logo (a square made up of a red top left block, a blue bottom left block, a green top right block, and a yellow bottom right block followed by “Microsoft”) was filed in 2012 (trademark registration number 4552363).
Like Apple, Microsoft being another tech giant, there are many apps and softwares developed by software engineer employees of Microsoft that have been registered as trademarks. Examples of such applications and softwares include Powerpoint, Excel, MSN, Vista, Windows XP, Office 365, Xbox, and more. On March 22, 2019, the following apps were given logo makeovers and therefore filed for trademark registration: Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Teams, and Word.
Minecraft, while perhaps not among the famous trademarks, is another extremely popular application name that Microsoft has trademarked This trademark was the result of an acquisition deal made in 2014. With this deal, Microsoft obtained all intellectual property associated with Minecraft and thus becoming the trademark owner.
On September 16, 1999, Google was registered as a trademark with the USPTO (trademark registration number 2806075).
The date of the first usage of “Google” in commercial use was September 1997. The name Google is derived from a misspelling of the word “googol.” Googol is the number 1 followed by one-hundred zeros. This was done to signify the infinite amount of information the search engine can provide users.
Google Inc. was founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally to market Google Search. An unofficial third member, Scott Hassan, handled a majority of the development of Google’s original search engine code; however, Hassan left Google before it even became Google. In 1996, Page and Brin, along with the help of Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg, all worked together to create the search engine algorithm for a company initially nicknamed “Backrub.” This nickname derived from the fact their algorithm checked backlinks to gauge the relevancy and importance of websites.
Google is another tech giant with hundreds of registered trademarks and pending trademark applications. One example is Google Chrome, which was launched in 2008 as a free website browser and was registered with the USPTO on April 26, 2011 (trademark registration number 3951287). The Google Chrome logo is also a registered trademark and widely recognized. On the contrary, what is not widely recognized is the fact that Google owns YouTube, making them the owners of the registered trademarks associated with the video-sharing website. More registered trademarks owned by Google includes Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Earth, Google Translate, and many more.
Google recently won a lawsuit regarding their name. Rather than an infringement case, as most intellectual property lawsuits are, it was instead a case of genericization. Genericization occurs when a brand becomes a noun or a verb. Genericization is a symbol of success, however it also means the company has lost all exclusivity to the word.
For example, the words zipper, granola, Kleenex, and Aspirin are all names of a specific product that then became the new generic name of the item. Zipper was the trademarked name of a “separable fastener” before it became the name of all separable fasteners. Granola was the name of a cereal by the famous brand Kellogg, however now it is used to describe natural breakfast cereal. Kleenex was a registered trademark for facial tissues before it became so popular that most people now say “can you pass me a Kleenex please?” Aspirin is the same case: once a registered trademark for headache medicine, it is now referred to whenever any headache medication is needed.
In Elliot v. Google, plaintiffs argued that Google became a generic term to describe searching for something on the internet. After losing the case in the state of California, plaintiffs took the case to the Supreme Court where they petitioned that “there is no single word other than Google that conveys the action of searching the Internet using any search engine.” Despite this, the court held that the term “Google” is sometimes referred to as verb, however it is still a brand first.
Walmart, the department store, was founded by Sam Walton in 1962. The retail giant has over 2000 registered trademarks, many of them being distinct to shoppers. The most distinctive trademark is likely the logo: the mark “Walmart” followed by the single 6-point star drawing. This mark was registered with the USPTO on April 28, 2009 with the trademark registration number 3612345.
Trademark 3612345 is the most recent version of the Walmart logo. After going through rebranding to draw in families of higher income, Walmart decided to include the 6-leg spark in their logo. Logos often represent more than what meets the eye. A good example of this can be seen with the Walmart spark. Made up of 6 lines, each “sparklet” represents a value or principle Walmart likes to lead by. The sparks stand for the customer, respect, integrity, associates, service, excellence, and the half spark which refers to the original spark of inspiration Sam Walton felt when opening his own business.
Walmart has hundreds more trademarks most people are familiar with, most being registered under Walmart Apollo, LLC. If you shop at Walmart, you have definitely seen the brand Equate (both the word and logo) which was registered on May 16, 1995 and given the trademark registration number 1893879. This brand mainly applies to household products such as cleaning supplies, oral healthcare, personal care, baby care, as well as over the counter medications, such as pain relievers, antihistamines, and dietary supplements.
Another popular brand you will find in the aisles of Walmart is Great Value. The mark “Great Value” logo was registered on January 20, 1998 with the trademark registration number 2129655. This trademark applies to many categories ranging from dishwashing detergent to dairy, red meat, fish, and poultry. However, most categories of Equate products have to do with food products.
The Dayton Company founded Target in 1962, the same year as Walmart, with the help of John Geisse. After becoming the Dayton Corporation in 1967 and then the Dayton-Hudson Corporation in 1969, the company was finally renamed the Target Corporation in 2000. On February 27, 1967, “Target” was registered with the USPTO (trademark registration number 0845193).
The original Target logo was a red three-circle target with the text “Target” in black on top and was used from 1962 to 1987. The first logo change in 1988 was due to legibility issues since the logo and name overlapped. In this change, consumers saw the name removed and one red ring from the target, leaving just the two circle target. There were further changes in 1974 and 2004 before the most recent change in 2018.
Like Walmart, the retail giant has hundreds of registered trademarks. Similar to the logo, Target’s Pantone red is a registered trademark of the company that is widely recognized. Registered on October 14, 2003 (trademark registration number 2773472), the color is painted inside the store and is featured on the logo as well as the store name. Target even has a mascot used as the face of the company that is a registered trademark.
There are many brands owned by Target found in almost every department from home decor and home essentials to food and clothing. Home brands include Made By Design, Room Essentials, Casaluna, Up and Up, Everspring, Hearth & Hand With Magnolia, Threshold, and more. The company’s launched food brands are Market Pantry, Favorite Day, and Good & Gather. Target-owned clothing brands include Xhilaration, All in Motion, Cat & Jack, Goodfellow & Co., Universal Thread, and more.
Lego is a danish company that humbly began by manufacturing wooden toys. Founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1932, the company was almost named “Legio” as a play on the words “legion of toys.” However, two years later, Christiansen decided on “Lego,” a play on the danish phrase leg godt which translates to “play well.” It also loosely translates to “I assemble” or “I put together” in Latin.
In 1934, the name “Lego” began being used in commerce. It wasn’t until 1949 when Lego would begin selling “automatic binding bricks,” modernly known as Legos the toy. Lego patented their product in 1958.
Lego has 80 total pending and registered U.S. trademarks and trademark applications. One of the Danish company’s first trademarks in the U.S. was registered on August 26, 1975 for the Lego logo (trademark registration number 1018875). The design patent for Lego blocks expired in Denmark, the United States, and Canada in 1978, so this led Lego to count on trademark and copyright laws to protect the brand.
Lego has run into legal issues regarding trademarks in multiple countries. In 1999, Lego registered the mark of a 3D image of a red eight-stud brick in the European Union. However, in 2004, the European Court of Justice ruled to cancel the trademark registration of the red eight-stud Lego brick as the functional shape of a brick cannot be registered as a trademark. Lego appealed the decision, arguing that the distinctive studs on the top of the brick allows eligibility for trademark rights. The court never ruled in their favor.
On May 4, 1961, the fast food restaurant name McDonald’s was registered with the USPTO (trademark registration number 1280213). Founded in the late 1940s by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald, the franchise also had loads of registered trademarks under their belt. By September of the same year, McDonald’s had also registered their iconic logo, however, it was not the same one used today. The McDonald’s logo has gone through many changes throughout the years. The current McDonald’s logo was introduced in 2018. Some more famous trademarks of theirs include the slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” and products like McCafe, Happy Meal, McFlurry, McMuffin, Big Mac, and many more.
In the EU, McDonald’s is unable to have a registered trademark for its Big Mac burger. In the UK, there is an Irish restaurant chain named Supermac’s, so the European Union Intellectual Property Office rejected McDonald’s trademark application for Big Mac as Supermac’s intends to expand outside of Ireland. McDonald’s has been involved in many lawsuits regarding trademarks in countries all over the world. In addition to the UK, the other countries with McDonald’s operations include the U.S., Australia, Malaysia, Denmark, and the Philippines.
In 1893, before there was Pepsi, there was “Brad’s Drink.” Created by Caleb Bradham, it only took 5 years for the name Pepsi-Cola, “Pepsi” for short, to be born in 1898. After both immense failures and successes, Pepsi is now a billion dollar company. With such success, it makes sense that the company holds over 2,500 trademark applications. On June 16, 1903, Pepsi-Cola was registered as a trademark with the USPTO (trademark registration number 0040619). Although now the original trademark is expired, Pepsi still has many brands and trademarks. To name a few, Pepsi owns Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Tropicana, Sierra Mist, Naked, and more.
Not only does Pepsi own beverage brands, they also own snack brands such as Lays, Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles, Fritos, and more. Other food brands include Quaker, Cap’n Crunch, Aunt Jemima, Sabra, Life, and more. Many of these brands were not developed in-house, instead being bought in thousand dollar deals. Only a few brands were created in-house: Aquafina, LIFEWTR, and Tostitos. Pepsi has brand subdivisions and licensing in all seven continents. Read more about licensing in our licensing agreements article.
In 1910, Chanel Inc., the French luxury fashion house, was born in Paris. On November 18, 1924, both the mark “Chanel” and their logo of the interlocking CC design were registered with the USPTO (trademark registration number 0195360 and 0195359).
Chanel is also widely known for their No. 5 perfume scent, created in 1921, as well as the bottle body shape. Two years after their first trademark, on July 20, 1926, the perfume name “No. 5” was trademarked (trademark registration number 0215556). However, Chanel has been unable to trademark the perfume bottle design. Chanel claims their perfume bottle design has acquired distinctiveness over the years while the USPTO rejects this basis. According to an examiner at the USPTO, “the shape of the perfume bottle and bottle stopper is a basic shape that is common in the fields of cosmetics, fragrances and perfumery.”
Starbucks is a coffee shop powerhouse that is recognized around the globe. Founded in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Rev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker, the coffee chain is extremely successful. The famous brand name “Starbucks” was not trademarked until 1985. “Starbucks Coffee” was also trademarked the same year. The company’s registered trademarks play a huge part in the reason why the company is so recognizable.
One of the most popular trademarks Starbucks holds is the mark “Frappuccino.” Frappuccino is a term made up of the words frozen and cappuccino originally coined by George Howell from the Coffee Collection in 1992. In 1995, Starbucks bought the word from Howell and started making their own recipes for the frozen coffee beverage (trademark registration number 2148066). Starbucks has even trademarked the large size name of their drink: venti (trademark registration number 2199113).
The Starbucks logo has been revised many times since the original design created in 1971. With changes to the shape, size, color, and siren design, the logo now is much more simple than it used to be. The first logo change was in 1987 when Howard Schultz bought the company. Another logo change was seen in 1992 before the disaster of a logo was created in 2008. The most recent logo change was in 2011, when the company opted for a much more minimalist look (trademark registration number 4572688).