Minneapolis trademark lawyer David D’Zurilla describes the secondary meaning of a trademark.
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Secondary meaning as it pertains to trademarks pertains to arguably descriptive marks. Mark that describe the goods on which it is used and do not arguably identify the source of the goods. Secondary meaning means that the mark, while it arguably may be somewhat descriptive has been used in commerce for a time period, wherein consumers have come to know that mark and come to know the source of the goods identified by that mark, and so it has acquired secondary meaning not withstanding its perhaps descriptive nature.
An example of a secondary meaning, a good example is American Airlines. It’s geographically descriptive. It’s an airline which is based in America, but everyone in this country knows that American Airlines is a particular airline that different from U.S. Airway, or United or Delta.