Trade dress, like traditional trademarks and service marks, is accorded protection to the extent that the trade dress serves as a unique source-identifier and is not functional. Subject matter as varied as the conduct of a trade show and the appearance of the interior of a restaurant have been held protectable as trade dress.

Products can also acquire trade dress protection even if composed entirely of unprotectable components. Both product and package trade dress are able to be registered on the trademark register of the Patent and Trademark Office. To gain protection, the claimed trade dress must also be either inherently distinctive or have acquired distinctiveness.