Suggestive marks are marks that contain wording that hint at the products or services — the consumers need to imagine or think to understand what the nature of the underlying product or services might be, e.g. TIDE for laundry detergent.
Descriptive marks are weaker marks. They are marks that that describe one or more characteristics of the products or services.
Descriptive marks are eligible for federal registration, if they acquire secondary meaning, or in other words, if they achieve significance “in the minds of the public” as identifying the applicant’s goods or services.
At the lowest end of the distinctiveness scale are the generic marks.
Generic marks are ineligible for federal trademark registration. Generic marks only refer to the name of the product or services itself, e.g. WINE for wine, LAW FIRM for a law firm.
As such, they are incapable of distinguishing a company’s products or services from the goods or services of others and therefore are ineligible for federal registration.
Further, generic marks are not protected by federal trademark laws so that other people can use generic words to describe their products or services.