Mail-order inspiration

Sometimes I get so damn lazy that a month goes by and I realize I haven’t posted anything. And I certainly can’t live on Ladybrain blogging alone. So I just invested in a monthly blogging inspiration plan: I joined Birchbox, a new service that sends you deluxe (or “luxe,” as they say) beauty samples every month. I’ll be able to report back not only on the trademarks of these samples, but also on whether I like them or not. (And I may have to enlist my daughters as guest bloggers, especially when I receive hair care samples!)

So far, I can only comment on the Birchbox name itself. I love the name, but would caution them against using “Birchbox” itself as the generic name for what arrives every month. This usage, for example, appeared in the email confirming my membership: 
Monthly Birchboxes are on a magazine schedule


Your trademark is Birchbox – don’t make it plural. Use a generic term after and with the trademark, e.g., Birchbox sample boxes. That way, the inevitable competitors won’t be able to say “well, we don’t know what else to call it.” Tell them what to call it and you won’t have that problem.
Anyway, stay tuned!

Face time

The Grammy Awards were last night, and while it’s not a show from which I really take many fashion tips, I do sometimes marvel at the perfect skin that’s on display. Some of those women must just have armies of estheticians prepping them for days in advance of the big event. 

Those of us too busy with things like kid-shlepping to luxuriate at spas for the perfect glow find ourselves going the Target or Walgreen’s route. And a quick magazine immersion provided me with some new and interesting names. (I can’t vouch for the efficacy of any of these products and probably won’t buy any – I have currently pledged my daily moisturizer troth to RoC’s Retinol Correxion [sic] Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 and I don’t care who knows. So there!)

On to the featured products:


Pro: Sounds like alchemist, and isn’t that what it’s all about? 
Con: Sounds like algae, and I don’t think I want that near my face.

2. Dream Nude Airfoam (Maybelline)

Pro: Dream is nice, again, because that’s what makeup allows us to do.
Con: Airfoam makes me think of putting out a fire with foam. Add nude to that, and you have a nightmare instead of a dream.

3. Magic Lumi

Pro: Magic isn’t bad (see “alchemist” above).
Con: Lumi, presumably short for “luminescence,” is clumsy, and Magic Lumi sounds like something marketed in an infomercial. Or a character in a children’s book.

4. Infallible

Pro: I like it! Not descriptive but suggestive: L’Oreal’s competitors don’t need to say “our eye shadow is infallible.” A strong mark in strong metallic packaging.

Con: I miss eye shadow containers that were large enough to hold a decent-sized brush or applicator. But that, alas, is nothing a good name can fix.

Finally, another mark unrelated to cosmetics and skincare:

Sorry, “slow kettle” sounds like an insult to me, or something I’d call a lollygagging daughter (besides, of course, lollygagger). Remember, it’s always good to say your new product name out loud a few times before settling!

I’m still alive*

Nancy’s all-too-kind words today were a sharp kick in the butt to remind me that it’s time to get back in the blogging saddle.  And I do, in fact, have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. (Translation: photos snapped on my BlackBerry that I should download).

First is this:

The littlest Levy pointed these out, and asked “how can they call them that?” Without a good explanation for this apparent coexistence with Fig Newtons, I decided to make one up (and THAT, my friends, is the secret of good parenting!): Paul Newman and his blue eyes can do whatever they want, even posthumously.
And the second is much more trademark-geek-oriented:
So I picked up these chestnuts during the holiday season, thinking “Hey, Galil – that must mean they’re Israeli chestnuts, right,” since Galil is the Hebrew word for Galilee, the northern part of Israel. Anyone who lived on a kibbutz in Israel would think that, right? Well, wrong. A close examination of the packaging showed that these chestnuts are from China, imported by a Syosset, NY company. So this naturally piqued my interest, since the packaging shows that GALIL is a registered trademark.
A closer examination of the PTO’s record for the GALIL trademark registration confused me even further: You see, the PTO had apparently (the file history is incomplete, but you can tell) issued an office action asking, as they often do, whether the term sought to be registered has any geographical significance, or any meaning in a foreign language. Here’s the lawyer’s response”

I call bullshit. This lawyer should have known better and probably did. This is both a prime example of chutzpah and a prime example of the PTO being too damn lazy to do the proper research themselves. This response was filed in 2000, and the internet was available. Hell, geographic dictionaries were available. If these products didn’t come from the Galil (and they don’t now), this application should have been refused under section 2(e)(3) as geographically misdescriptive. I don’t see why this is anything other than fraud on behalf of the trademark applicant, and gross negligence on the part of the PTO. This kind of registration clogs the register, and can unfairly empower unscrupulous and overzealous owners of such registrations to bully other users.
But what I really don’t understand? How was Empire Kosher Poultry, two years later, able to secure registration for GALIL, with a statement saying that GALIL is Hebrew for “Galilee,” WHEN ITS PRODUCTS DO NOT COME FROM THE GALILEE? The Galilee is full of farms – how could any food product bearing the name “Galilee” not run into problems under the TTAB’s stated standards:
(1) the mark’s primary significance is a generally known geographic location; and (2) … the relevant public would be likely to make a goods/place association, i.e., would be likely to think that the goods originate (or will originate) in the place named in the mark.

I, a member of the relevant public, an educated consumer and world traveler, assumed that Galil chestnuts came from Israel. This to me is a living example of PTO failure. Particularly since I recently received a refusal to register on geographic misdescriptiveness grounds that had me metaphorically kicking and screaming in my response to the PTO (I won, so there.) But sometimes I think the PTO pulls this kind of crap just to keep my mind active. Apparently it’s working!
UPDATE: Pam Chestek digs deeper and finds out exactly how Fig Newmans got their name!
*No reference to any ill health intended; I just like how the phrase makes me think of this excellent rock anthem.