I love when I can capture a lesson in trademark distinctiveness in one photo:
On top, you have OMISSION beer. Oh, what a superb name. Authoritative and succinct – and suggestive of the fact that something is missing, though the mark itself doesn’t say exactly what. Instead, it leaves that task to the little box on the upper right-hand corner of the cardboard case: “Crafted to remove gluten.” There we go – now the consumer is aware of a factor vital to its purchase decision.
And then below OMISSION, we have GLÜTINY. Where to begin? Well, I cannot ignore the pointless metal umlaut (aka röck döts!) that they’ve stuck over the U. Maybe, along with the skull-and-wrenchbones logo, they’re trying to destigmatize gluten-free beer to indicate that metalheads can drink this too? Oy. Then there’s the strange term “GLÜTINY” itself; assuming it’s a homophone for gluten-y, doesn’t that mean it’s gluten-filled or glutinous or gluten-rich? And wouldn’t that then not make any sense whatsoever for a beer that has been “Crafted to remove gluten”? Or wait – is it supposed to rhyme with “mutiny”? Yes, according to the New Belgium website. (And if it’s a gluten mutiny, I see we have yet another #shitmanteau on our hands!) But I still think that if you have what is essentially the word “gluten” in the name of a gluten-free/reduced beer, you are confusing the consumer as to what the product actually contains … as well as whiffing at the opportunity to create a good and distinctive mark.
Spotted in the toy aisle at Target:
It’s very hard to pronounce the T in EnchanTimals (and I can’t figure out why it’s capitalized) – so if you do attempt to utter the word without emphasizing the T, you sound like you’re three sheets to the wind. But I’m confused as well: if this #Shitmanteau means “enchanted animals,” which is which, the girl or the fox? I’m so glad my girls are past the age where this would appeal!
How on earth are we to expect kids these days to spell right when we create brand names with pointless misspellings?
There’s no reason I can think of to spell “divine” the way Valspar – now Sherwin-Williams does here; the term would be equally registrable and protectable as a (laudatory but not descriptive) trademark if spelled correctly. You lose at least two points here, says the spelling bee veteran.
But you get suspended for this one:
I blame Scrubs for making Elliot happen as a girl’s name (though I love the show, don’t get me wrong). But I blame dingbat parents – and here, toy companies – for distorting the name’s spelling, presumably to girlify it. I’ve tried to wish it away as Ellie T – but no, that’s unjustified.
Trademark geeks – do you see a 2(a) or 2(c) problem here?
If you didn’t, the PTO is on your side. If you did, you’re probably old like I am.
Please excuse the lousy photo quality here. We were running to meet friends on a visit to NY last month, but I had to stop to get the shot:
Yes, that’s CALLAHEAD … for portable toilets. The name elicited a huge groan among our party!
(Psssst, Callahead – your registration has been cancelled! It sure looks to me like it’s in use!)
Did you listen to yourselves with this copy?
“Meet Monsieur Big. Fall in love with every stroke!” Indeed.
Because I’m twelve.
Sooooooo – it’s pronounced like “Dallas,” right?
Any other pronunciation wouldn’t make sense to American English speakers who are aware of that major Texas city. Hey, I wonder if they’ve opened a Fallas in Dallas! Did you go to the new Fallas? I think I’d better stop now before it gets ugly …
H/t to my cousin Jamie, who’s always on the lookout for me!
So of course there has to be a juice bar, right? Because California, right?
I just can’t decide whether or not this is what I call a shitmanteau (and yes, if you follow me on Twitter you are well aware that I am trying to make #shitmanteau happen) – i.e., a portmanteau that just doesn’t work.
I think I’m going to err on the side of calling this a shitmanteau because the “sej” part of the word is so incongruous to the English language. But your mileage may vary.
Meanwhile, the Summer House restaurant just next door was a superb lunch location and our weekend getaway to sunny southern California was everything we could’ve hoped for – good friends, good food and wine, serious Fitbit mileage, real estate envy, and always, always in the OC (don’t call it that), quoting from Arrested Development.
We are once again empty nesters, both daughters now comfortably installed in their midwestern liberal arts paradises. I already miss them both, but it’ll be nice to enjoy our home without them.
But when I saw this product on the shelf at Target, I was overcome with memories of one of my favorite mothering tools:
Yes, you’ve got it, the bulb syringe. So first of all, kudos here for calling the damn thing what it is: a snotsucker. Second, I’m all about a brand that doesn’t tell me what it is, so cheers to Fridababy and its name and line of non-descriptive products (especially Windi!) The only concern I have is that unlike with the old bulb syringe, the caregiver is doing the actual sucking of the snot. (Which is of course a sentence I never expected to type …) I am just not sure I’d have been on board for that level of commitment to nasal evacuation.
Just finished reviewing a big juicy trademark search report and, as always, I have many, many thoughts entirely unrelated to my conclusions about the subject mark’s availability for use and registration. Here goes:
- Why does a municipality of about 12,000 people need a nine class federal trademark application for a logo mark that’s composed of a single letter in a stylized format? We’re not talking Beverly Hills here – this place is unlikely to be on anyone’s tourism bucket list. Even assuming TEAS Plus pricing for the nine classes, that’s $2025 before legal fees. More important than a local food bank or police overtime?
- When over 10% of the search report consists of pages showing a certain party’s oppositions, you can probably conclude that that party is a trademark bully.
- Oops, when reading quickly I saw “Tryon” as “Tyrion.” Damn you, Thrones!
- A search report that is 2000 pages long will contain at least 10 lawyers I know as filing correspondents.
- Is “ASSOCIATION SERVICES, NAMELY, PROMOTING THE INTERESTS
OF HOMEOWNERS THAT RESIDE IN THE COMMUNITY” really a service being performed in interstate commerce? Why does a local municipality that’s presumably offering those services to said homeowners need federal registration? (Okay, it’s just a variation on the theme of #1.)
- Honestly, why is anyone filing applications for goods that include cannabis products?
- Gonna say it and not be shy: Those Madrid registrations with biblically long IDs really clog up the register.
- When Disney, Nintendo, McDonald’s, Marvel Comics, Warner Bros., Merck, 20+ sports teams, and 20+ universities and colleges show up in the search with registered marks, that tells you the mark is weak.
- The Finnish term for “limited company” is osakeyhtiö, and its delightful abbreviation is OY.
- Any application that contains automobiles, pantyhose, and whips among its identified goods should be immediately suspect – can its owner really have a bona fide intention to use the mark on all those items?
- Why does a high school need federal trademark registration of its logo?
- Boy, do we Jews seem to gravitate to trademark law!
- Here, have a doggie as a reward for your kindness in slogging through this post:
I know that “gluten free” and “dairy free” are magical incantations that suggest eternal life and perpetual thinness. And I know that almond milk is also revered among the faddishly health-conscious.* I don’t condemn Baileys (WHERE DID THE APOSTROPHE GO?) for jumping on that bandwagon; we all have to make a buck. But what I do begrudge them is the inanely unimaginative name they went with on this ride:
It doesn’t mean “almond” in any language. All I can think of is that they selected the term so as to be able to register it as a trademark and not have to provide a translation statement, since the term is just a bastardization of the word “almond” and its French version, “amande.”
As always, I will insist on pronouncing it as I read it, which is “al-MAHN-day.” That is, if I ever get the chance, as it’s not likely I’m going to order something that sounds as unappealing as almond milk liqueur.
*I confess that I use a tiny bit of almond milk to lighten my coffee in the morning. I find its bitterness complements the coffee’s bitterness rather than softening it as milk does. Just FTR.
Maybe for Professor Levy, in fact! In light of the decision in Vuitton v. My Other Bag, can you distinguish this use from the uses LV complains about?
My first reaction was “OH COME ON!” But does Vuitton suggest I should temper my indignation? I’ll leave it to the academics to discuss.
I didn’t like “Herban” as a cute play on “urban” eight years ago (see my post here). Guess what? I still don’t like it, even when the use is more closely connected to “herb” as it is here:
And at least from the outside, there was nothing to suggest why it might be “Denver’s Most Distinctive Dispensary.” However, it may be one of the best dispensary locations in Denver – it’s on the same block as Sweet Action Ice Cream, which I can confirm has some of the best pistachio ice cream this side of Sicily.
Took a rare trip downtown with the kids on Sunday (suburban life tends to engulf us on the weekends) and they were tickled to see this sign:
Spawn of trademark attorneys that they are, the girls appreciated both the cheap “Come Say High” pun and the suggestiveness of Euflora as a name. Hashtag blessed, as they say.
Apparently I’ve been blogging for over nine years now. So happy bloggiversary to me. Perhaps in celebration of those nine years, I’ve just made a big move from solo practice back to big firm practice. I joined the firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. on July 5 as Counsel. I’m delighted with this change of pace and lifestyle, and am very excited about the change. I’m also excited to discover downtown Denver, however belatedly after living here for nine years, to commute by train, and to relearn what dressing for work is all about.
BUT WHAT TRADEMARK ODDITIES HAVE I NEGLECTED TO SHARE SINCE MY LAST POST? I’m glad you asked. First of all, the INTA Annual Meeting in Barcelona was a thrill for many reasons, not the least of which was being introduced to fun brand Catalunyan names such as this:
And if Globber wasn’t enough, there’s this:
And one of the best window displays I’ve ever seen:
Yeah, some people think sewing machines. Others think about genericism, regardless of the language:
Finally, perhaps a bit too snarky for a bar name?
All in all, a grand time was had by all, it seemed, not to mention all the damn ham! Would return, 10/10! Meanwhile, until then, I’m enjoying my new digs and learning how to talk to people again – not just puppies!
There are some brands that linger in your memory because you’re eternally twelve years old, and this is one:
(Photo from Wikipedia).
Yes, Pschitt, a French citrus-flavored soda, has enchanted me since I first saw it in 1978. I’ve even blogged about it in the past.
So, following on the trend of product naming that perhaps might be, shall we say, unsettling, I offer you this:
Pschitt skincare. Or let me clarify – Pschitt Magic.
This certainly offers an excellent textbook example of what dilution by blurring might look like, but my bigger issue is that of the term’s significance in English. We trademark lawyers are always cautious about proposed marks that might mean something unsavory in a foreign language, and I’m surprised Garancia’s marketing team thought it was okay to sanction a mark that suggests to an English-speaking consumer that her treatment is nothing but “magic shit.” Between shit on my face and perfume that smells like shoes, I’m so far not seduced by French branding!
LOTS of magazines this time, so let’s have at it:
Is anyone else mildly disturbed by the idea of a perfume from a famous shoe designer? L’eau de Choo? To me, the Jimmy Choo brand means shoes, and shoes alone, and I think migrating the brand to fragrance could be challenging. But I guess to others, a luxury brand is a luxury brand, whether on feet or elsewhere.
I have been walking by this clothing shop on the rue St. Dominique in Paris for years:
It’s always seemed like a klutzy name to me (and also weirdly close to Karl Marx), so this time I thought I’d actually grab a photo and look into its story. Well, indeed, their naming story is one of the lamest I’ve ever seen: the wife of one of the founding brothers came up with the idea of making a cashmere and silk sweater bearing the first names of three great designers; the brothers then launched the brand itself, and subsequently, stores with the name.
Pardonnez-moi if I’m slightly underwhelmed by this gripping tale. Meanwhile, shouldn’t Messrs. Lagerfeld, Jacobs, and Galliano have a problem with this? Under US I would expect that publicity rights and 43(a) might kick in somehow. But here we are in France, and here Karl Marc John has been going steady since 2010. So I’ll just sit back and enjoy my memories of a delightful six days in Paris and try not to let this one gnaw at me.
Because I am a sucker for insight into lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the schadenfreude that reading about that brings, I just took advantage of a $2 subscription to Town & Country magazine. Dazzled, I tell you, I was dazzled by all of the jewels shown “price upon request” and the name-dropping of royals throughout.
I was less dazzled, I must confess, at the egregious misspelling of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris as “Bologne.” That’s a firing offense for any publication (in my exacting view of the world), but particularly in one where all things Paris are considered the ne plus ultra.
Also concerning – though more on an annoyance level – was the script used to promote this perfume from Sisley:
Well? You tell me what that first letter is. Oh, I see, it’s in the hashtag. But wait, is that an i or a lowercase L? And then I just decided, having seen Sisley products in French department stores, that in the immortal words of my mother, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (And perhaps recognizing the impenetrability of this script, Sisley added a more legible font to its promotion of this perfume on its website.)
Bought a shirt with this label recently:
Not so sure that’s the best branding. Poof, or poofter, is a derogatory term for a gay man. Wordnik also notes that it’s a term used by magicians to indicate a “sudden vanishing.”
Naturally, the apotheosis of both these meanings can be found in this Arrested Development clip, which I invite you to savor as much as I have.
Another fun fact: Poof can also mean the product or sound or act of flatulence! Don’t say I’m not trying to find entertainment where I can!