All signs, particularly words including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, sounds, three-dimensional designs, the shape of goods or of their packaging as well as other wrapping, including colours and colour combinations, may be protected as trade marks if they are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.
There are some exceptions to this principle. For example, trade marks which devoid of any distinctive character for the goods or services cannot be protected.
For example, the term "software" cannot be protected for the product "software", because that would prohibit any other software producer from calling his product, his software, "software". All generic terms (e.g. software) are therefore not protectable as trademarks.
To protect trademarks, it is advisable to register them in a register. This can be a national register (for example USPTO, DPMA) or an international one (EUIPO, WIPO). This registration provides a right to the trademark recorded in a register, the registration of which is advantageous in the event of a dispute.
This is because registered trademarks may not be used without your authorization. If your trademark has nevertheless been used without authorization, it is possible to demand that the infringer cease the infringement and destroy the products manufactured by him. Furthermore, you are generally entitled to compensation for damages.