As I’ve been known to do long before now, this past weekend I found myself gazing intently, this time, into the front label and back copy on this S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water bottle: Putting aside the question of the shiny red star logo, which we already have bloviated about, here, a few years… Continue Reading
One of my passions is to find common and favorable ground between legal and marketing types. One of the readings during week three of Seth Godin’s intensive altMBA workshop reminded me of a great example to illustrate how a valid marketing goal can align with strong legal protection. An excerpt from Seth’s All Marketers are Liars book was… Continue Reading
We had some great questions from the audience during the Mastering U.S. Trademark Registration Practice seminar in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. During the session on genericness, someone asked about MyPillow, expressing amazement that it could be federally-registered. Having now seen the MyPillow television advertisement probably a dozen times since then, I’ve finally gotten around… Continue Reading
Seeing these on the store shelf this weekend reminded me that we are still anxiously awaiting the USPTO’s decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) as to whether the words “pretzel crisps” will be found generic for “pretzel crackers” –basically, a public domain category or class of goods term, in the same way that “footlong”… Continue Reading
Please consider this beautiful backdrop and sunset in Ontario, Canada, as a gentle reminder of how important it is to have a very clear understanding of your brand’s trademark strength and reasonable scope of rights before engaging in trademark enforcement activities.
A hot dog is a type of sandwich, and “footlong” denotes a type, category, or class of sandwiches (those measuring about a foot in length), making “footlong” a generic term and part of the public domain — incapable of serving as a trademark for any kind of sandwich. This is true despite Subway’s claimed… Continue Reading
Let’s call it the Family Feud test of trademark suggestiveness . . . . We’ve written a lot here about the all-important Spectrum of Distinctiveness, a key tool for those who name products and services, and for those who hope their selected names can be ownable as trademarks, upon their first use in commerce. Last week,… Continue Reading
In the wake of all the discussion and debate over “trademark bullying,” NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses), the self-proclaimed Voice of Small Business, recently offered its members and followers “5 Steps to Avoid Corporate Trademark Bullying“: Do Your Homework; Choose a Descriptive Business Name; Use Common Sense; Consider Buying Intellectual Property Insurance; and When in Doubt,… Continue Reading
v. Texas Toast is the generic name for a type of bread, you know, the big thick double-cut slices. Anyone can call their bread Texas Toast if that is what they are selling, and, by the way, it doesn’t have to be toasted for the name to fit. But, what if you’re selling a product made from bread, say, croutons?… Continue Reading
John Reinan provided yesterday a marketer’s perspective that questioned the value of coined trademarks. In my experience, as a trademark type, one place on the spectrum of distinctiveness where both trademark and marketing types can have their cake and eat it too, is the delicious category of suggestive trademarks. From the legal side of the coin, suggestive… Continue Reading
I’m thrilled to have this platform to vent about a long-standing beef: awkward, made-up product and company names. Trademark lawyers call them coined. Among the worst offenders are automobiles, technology and finance. When I was a kid, cars had names like Roadmaster, Thunderbird and Catalina. Now a prospective car buyer has to wade through an… Continue Reading
As you’ll see, I’m no equestrian (nor equine expert for that matter), but given the non-verbal logos shown above, are you able to tell what company operates a fleet of these semi tractor-trailers? Does the color of the horse help? Horse breed? The direction it is facing? How about its pose? Some possible considerations and the answer below the jump.
Earlier this week, Guest Blogger Burt Alper from Catchword Branding, provided a marketer’s perspective on the pros and cons of naming styles, here. With that introduction, now seems like a good time to revisit the critically important line — in terms of legal protection — between descriptive and suggestive names, and also provide a handy graphic to illustrate the… Continue Reading