I am wondering how are numbers treated within the taxonomy of trademarks by Per Mollerup which is explained in his book Marks of Excellence.

Numbers are not explicitly defined and I believe there should be a distinction between literal numbers (numerical value) and numbers which represent other letters or words.

Example of literal/actual numbers: 100 Kilo, Studio 42

Examples of representative numbers: H3LL0, Gift2Win, 4EVER

The names are made up for the sake of this question.

Taxonomy reference: enter image description here

Consider a trademark which consists of only numbers, or it could have a name but the logo is just numbers, where will it fit in the taxonomy?

Any feedback appreciated.

P.S This is for a research in graphic design studies.

Further reading: http://iconresearch.net/mollerups-taxonomy

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking, you can’t trademark numbers because they are not distinctive enough. There are exceptions, but they prove the rule because they are things like Boeing’s “747” where the number became so absurdly well known that you could say “seven-four-seven” to a random person in the street and they would know you were referring to the airplane, and even in that case, it was only after the 747 became famous that Boeing got the trademark. If creating a new trademark today, you would never want to make one that was only numbers. There is almost no chance of trademarking it.

So to the specific point of your question, there shouldn’t be a place in the taxonomy for numbers-only trademarks. Numbers can accessorize letters and words to make something distinctive, but numbers by themselves are not distinctive.

  • Is 4711 the proverbial exception to the rule? (This cologne dates from the 18th century, so probably long ago enough to be an "established name" without being an actual trademark.)
    – Jongware
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 14:05

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