Coca-Cola settled on its famous contour bottle design almost 100 years ago, in 1916, after several years of trials with other far less distinctive shapes (at least under today’s standards):

Federal trademark registration data confirms the first use date to be July 8, 1916. The description of the contour bottle design mark in 1960 was: “The trademark consists of the distinctively shaped contour, or confirmation, and design of the bottle as shown”:

The silhouette or outline of the contour bottle design stands alone as a federally registered trademark even without words:

The negative image or silhouette of the contour bottle design is also federally registered as a trademark:













And, now the outline or partial image of the contour bottle design shape even finds itself in multiple other federally-registered formats for the Coca-Cola brand:



Do these examples make it the most famous fluid trademark that no one is talking about — when they’re talking about so-called fluid trademarks? Sorry, Google Doodles.

Will there ever be a more iconic bottle design or product container? Sorry, Pepsi, no chance.
























The beauty in the design to trademark types, of course, lies in the fact that the shape can be owned as a trademark, forever . . . .

  • Two interesting thoughts on this post. If you look at the history of Coca-Cola, the bottle design depicted here is what’s used to represent the brand, even before 1916. This goes back to the founding date of 1886, 30 years of historical bottle use. In a sense, the bottle shape has rewritten history in favor of Coca-Cola. That’s an influential design solution.

    And, the original prototype was design by this man Earl Dean and was part of a design competition. Earl won a lifetime job at the glass company and one would assume the glass company won a large contract with Coca-Cola. So, competitions are good, as long as the reward is equivalent.