–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Here’s a trademark that has always amused me:

You can find it on a page of FedEx’s website, and it is on many FedEx boxes and trucks.  As Steve has pointed out before, and as probably everybody older than the age of reason knows, FedEx is short for Federal Express, so this mark in one sense means “Federal Express Express.”  (FEDERAL EXPRESS is still itself a registered trademark, although with EXPRESS disclaimed, and FEDEX is also registered.)

At the same time, the company does not seem to be embarrassed to use the FEDEX EXPRESS mark, and many of us probably see it regularly and don’t notice the apparent redundancy, which is a testament to the fact that the trademark FEDEX is inherently distinctive.  To the strict literalist, FedEx may mean only “Federal Express,” but in commerce, FEDEX is a unique identifier distinguishing a unique source of services–and there is the genius in its branding strategy, albeit bolstered by long-standing use.  FEDEX is now a house mark used in a bewildering number of composite trademarks:

I could go on.  FedEx is even on the first person bandwagon with its MY FEDEX page.  I state the obvious:  FedEx is strong, and Federal Express is a branding champion–strong enough to be redundant without consequence.

P.S.  But even the champions can’t always keep up with the domainers–just see where fedexpress.com takes you…