Destination: Paris et les magazines de la mode

Remember my kvetching about Acne Jeans and what a ridiculous name it is? Sure you do. And it still is ridiculous, IMHO. Well, hold on to your emesis basins, because here comes another one, straight out of the pages of Marie France magazine. The latest kids’ jeans brand:

         Finger in the Nose

Where do I begin? Is this name meant to evoke the endearing nature of a child performing a digital excavation of his nasal passages? I’m just not buying it. But take a look at the website and its charmingly mangled English: “[E]ach material choice has been tought [sic] to guarantee children a good feeling in their jeans whatever if it’s a slim, straigh [sic] or comfort fit.” A good feeling in children’s jeans is probably not what we want to be touting here. But there’s more: Finger in the Nose promises that these jeans are “[a] simple yet clever product, capable of following the child everywhere and for a long time to go.” So basically these are stalker/molester jeans? A good translator would’ve gone a long way here.

What a beautiful progression a French child can undergo: From Finger in the Nose to Acne. What’s next for jeans for the middle aged? My suggestion: Lumbago. You’re welcome.

  

Logo nono

Sometimes graphic designers can muck up the look of a mark. Take this one, for example:




I am reasonably certain that this is meant to be the sunglass version of the regular Xperio lens. Indeed, looking at the company’s website confirms this guess. But something about the squishing of the UV onto the core Xperio mark bothers me. In fact, the website only exacerbates this confusion, as it contains two different logos for the XperioUV mark, and then shows the mark in text as you see in the bottom of the ad above, as two separate words. 

Every trademark lawyer and marketer has a different view, but I think that since “UV” is merely a descriptor to indicate sun protection, why bother making a fancy logo and gluing UV onto Xperio to try to make a new mark? “UV” is generic, and Xperio is so distinctive. Why not merely let UV function as generic, rather than trying to gin up a new trademark with it? It’s just line extension – so you’d have Xperio UV, Xperio Bifocal, Xperio Progressive, Xperio reading, as needed. But no one asked me …

This has been your trip into the mind of a trademark lawyer. Trust me, it’s no easier on this end.



Hell to the no indeed!

I’d have taken a photo the other day of the huge Athleta “coming soon” sign at my nearest mall, but feared risking the wrath of their security squad. What did I want to memorialize in pixels? The absolutely jarring “Power to the She” slogan. Nancy, of course, has already raked this slogan over the coals, but as far as I am concerned, it cannot be raked too much (unlike this metaphor, which I’ve already worn out). 

Athleta’s actual use of the slogan since its January introduction certainly doesn’t convince me that the slogan speaks to anyone who knows how to speak: Athleta has a Power to the She Award; its articles introducing the winners of that award always begin “Meet the Power to the She Award recipient …” Huh? It’s clumsy and looks incomplete in text, almost worse than when it stands alone as a slogan. “She,” as a subjective pronoun, should never follow a preposition.¹  And “the She”? What does it mean? What is it meant to mean? It makes my head spin. Just because some companies rely on non-standard English to make their points doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.²  Not everyone thought the atrociously ungrammatical “Think Different” was brilliant, after all. 
Here’s what I don’t understand: Athleta is a pretty good name. Their Athleta chi blog has a great tagline: “connecting women to the energy of inspiration.” How about connecting women to the energy of logical word formation?
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¹So if you’re thinking “but what about ‘with she and I’? Don’t think it ever again and consult a good grammar textbook. Please.

²Philosophy courtesy of my mother, an enthusiastic proponent of the “Just because everyone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, doesn’t mean you have to do it too” child-rearing method.

Destination: Sicily, where sex sells

Slapping an artichoke tattoo on a shapely model is kind of stretching it to make a connection between feminine pulchritude and the artichoke, don’t you think?

I don’t think that the slogan “Una Voglia Naturale” – a natural desire – gets you there. Or is that why she’s wearing an animal-print thong? Yes, I’m overthinking it. 
But there’s more, an item we spotted in a gelato shop in the town of Noto:
The complicated typography of this name is something that has to be seen on the website to be believed, as does the feverish language (at least in English), with such exhortations as “Be seduced by the taste of Se.xO’ . . . it is non-alcoholic with a pleasant fruity flavor for those who, like you, love living the rhythm of the night.” (Try saying that three times fast!) Let me tell you, even reading this ad copy can get your heart racing. 
Apparently someone in Noto was drinking the Se.xO’ instead of eating gelato like we were – at least that’s what this bit of garbage on the street suggested:
Yep, that’s the box for a Lover’s Fantasy Kit. Empty. Just sitting right out there on the street. 
And yes, I was the one who noticed it … all in the name of this blog, I swear to you!

Tongue nor heart Cannot conceive nor name thee!

I would continue with “The attempt and not the deed Confounds us,” but this deed confounds me as well:

 
Other thoughts? “Infirm of purpose”? “Leave no rubs or botches in the work”? Macbeth is generally viewed as Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy, so it’s causing me some major cognitive dissonance when it’s juxtaposed with the flowery background and “Decorate your life … ” tagline – not to mention the PINK!
Google informs me that Macbeth is also the name of a shoe and apparel company. While I’m still not convinced it’s a mark that says “buy me,” this company’s website and the mood it conveys are anything but cheerful; indeed, some of their t-shirts bear downright foreboding graphics. So I’d say the shoes win the battle of the Macbeths.
H/t to my now-rising high school junior for finding this gem!

One step forward …

In case you missed it, there was big news in France a few months ago: the government officially ordered the honorific “Mademoiselle” to be removed as an option from official forms. The origin of the term was effectively “damsel,” which indicated a woman’s status as unmarried, as “Miss” does in comparison to “Mrs.” here. Madame, it appears, will function as “Ms.” does here, to identify adult women regardless of age or marital status. Some in France may balk at the change; I sent an email to a hotel clerk last summer and addressed the woman as Madame Untel (untel being French for “so-and-so”) – but her reply was signed Mademoiselle Untel. Old habits die hard, I guess.

And it seems that old habits die hard in Italy as well, as this new fragrance from Salvatore Ferragamo suggests:
Random internet evidence leads me to conclude that “Signora” is now appropriate in Italian for use with women over the age of 18, regardless of marital status, so I am not sure if this fragrance is designed for a younger market, or if it’s trying to evoke memories of the purity of youth. (I feel icky even typing that.) I’m just not sure it’s either modern or appropriately retro. Ferragamo’s own copy only confuses things further:
Signorina, the new fragrance from Salvatore Ferragamo is the celebration of chic girls with a sophisticated, subtly cheeky and fresh scent signature.
An Italian description I found was pretty much in the same spirit:
Signorina è il profumo giusto per le giovani donne contemporanee, creative e anche un po’ audaci. 
Loosely, that’s “Signorina is the right perfume for young women who are contemporary, creative and a bit daring.” Wow … or not.
I’m studying Italian right now in advance of a summer excursion, so while I will happily pronounce “Signorina” with my best Sophia Loren accent, I nonetheless register my disapproval of the name as anything but contemporary. 

A really lousy name

I have no choice but to assume that these socks are uncomfortably itchy:

NO, IF YOU CHANGE THE SPELLING OF A GENERIC TERM IT DOES NOT ENABLE YOU TO CLAIM TRADEMARK RIGHTS. How many times have I said that in my 22-year career in trademark law?

BUT THERE’S MORE: If you are going to change the spelling in a misguided attempt at distinctiveness, could you try not to change it to a word that brings horror to the mind of mothers everywhere?

BONUS POINTS: Alaskan Nits? Made in North Carolina. 

Garden State-style?

I thought that the cacophony emanating from Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of New Jersey had dissipated a bit. I think Bulova got the message a bit late, and a bit off course:

I guess it’s better than the Secaucus Collection, but not by a lot.

N.B. Hey, I can diss Jersey – both my parents are from there. I did serious time as a child in a car on the fetid northern end of the Turnpike. I know whereof I speak!

Destination: Munich

What I didn’t divulge previously was that we reached France via Munich in a little zippy vehicle that within 30 minutes of exiting the BMW Welt, was motoring along at speeds that occasionally reached 110 mph. Don’t look at me, I wasn’t driving. (BTW, the BMW European Delivery program and the car’s presentation to its new owners, along with a visit to the Welt and factory and museum, constitute one of the finest examples of how to sow brand loyalty I’ve ever experienced.)


But before our visit to the Welt, we spent a night in Munich and had dinner with old friends. As we were on our way to dinner, we encountered this example of how some brand names just don’t translate:



Back in the hotel room, we witnessed an even more compelling example of not only how brands may not always translate, but how their marketing as well can perplex and even sometimes horrify:



Words failed me when I first found this in the minibar and fail me still.

You decide

Heart medication or major fashion house line extension:

I don’t know, with that circle it looks like Prada XA to me. But this could also be another example of the trademark lawyer’s mind working way too hard.

I also have a problem with the pronunciation – is Pradaxa like Metaxa? Can I drink Metaxa after taking Pradaxa? Maybe I’ll just ask Dr. Seuss

While it’s clear that I need a vacation, instead I will see some of you at the INTA meeting in the city by the bay – and to clarify, that’s not Denver, for those of you who take Will Ferrell’s characters a bit too seriously.

Holiday Cheer

There is simply no equivalence between Chanukah and Christmas.  I don’t consider Chanukah a major holiday; it’s one I’d never consider traveling for and frankly, my sisters and I often ignore it because it’s only about presents and our kids have more than enough.  So to me, while it is a holiday season, it’s not about holidays that I spend a lot of time on. 

That said, it’s always a treat to watch how others observe – specifically, how people observe Christmas.  The holiday sweater craze is one that just doesn’t get enough attention, and a company called Skedouche is looking to change all that.  Take a gander:


Yep, not only do they have a delightfully obnoxious name, they also have new spins on the old tacky Christmas sweaters, like the above “Reindeer Threesome,” and one called “Excited Snowman,” that I’ll just leave you to peruse on their site

Cheers to this local company!

Motivational Nomenclature

I can’t help being inspired by the brand name on my back brace:

What a great brand – it brings a smile to my face and puts zing in my step, both of which help speed the healing process.  And anything to amuse the teen demographic in my household!
 

Destination: Maui

A brief but enjoyable visit to Maui before the kids get back from camp provided not only relaxation but also some excellent blog fodder.


Did you know that wine is made in every state in the US?  Well, it is, and we certainly weren’t about to miss Maui’s Tedeschi Vineyards, despite a drive that had me closing my eyes and popping ginger candies along the way.  We learned about Hawaiian agricultural history from our engaging guide Nani, and tasted some surprisingly delightful wines, particularly the sparkling pineapple wine:



Marc is pictured here holding a bottle of it.  The sparkler bears the charming moniker “Hula O’Maui.” We couldn’t resist bringing a bottle home in the suitcase.

What else?  Well, one of my betes noires as a trademark attorney is the continuing ability of the National Association of Realtors to be able to convince relevant adjudicative bodies that the term “realtor” is indeed a trademark despite clear evidence that the non-real-estate-professional public uses the term generically.  Apparently the fact of the term’s coinage back in 1916 wasn’t even enough to convince the TTAB in the linked opinion.  Well, I was able to locate some more evidence of that genericness – in a ladies’ room stall at Mama’s Fish House outside of Paia:


The photo was from a 1938 Honolulu newspaper.  And I merely affected an air of supreme confidence when the other woman in the bathroom looked at me quizzically when I exited the stall.  Not everyone is a trademark geek like I am, alas.

I loved the name of this store – Endangered Pieces – but even a brief glance while stopped at a traffic light assured me that there was a reason these pieces were endangered!



On our last day, we strolled Front Street in Lahaina desperately looking for somewhere decent for lunch.  We couldn’t locate our first choice, so we gave in to thirst, heat and exhaustion and plopped ourselves down at the Hard Rock Cafe.  In our defense, they were advertising ono tacos as their catch of the day special, and they were just delicious, as was the Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde Lager. The hostess was kind enough to drop off this flyer advertising the logowear we could purchase there:

The oxymoronic nature of the phrase “Hard Rock Couture” was nowhere more evident than on that same hostess, who was lavishly face-painted, tattooed and pierced.  But she did carry her pen in her more than ample cleavage, which I did find quite resourceful.  I’ll store that tidbit away for that day when I have my hands literally full and stowing a pen behind my ear just won’t work!

Finally, a tribute to my early legal career in Seattle:



And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.  And so do vacations come to an end and kids come back from camp.  But it was a lovely stay and we’ll dream of returning.  I leave you with the trip’s beautiful earworm: Over the Rainbow, by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole – which we now own on CD, thanks to Marc’s winning answer in the “Guess the Midpoint of the Flight” contest on our LAX-OGG flight.

Aloha!

InStyle Blogging

It’s that time of the month again . . . No, not that; the InStyle magazine just arrived, and as I do every month, I wonder how on earth I keep receiving the subscription, never having ordered, paid for nor renewed it.  This month I decided to make lemonade by turning my monthly analysis into a blog feature.  No doubt my subscription will miraculously vanish now, but until and unless it does, here goes:

1.  Impressed with the pillows at Thro Home.  Kind of surprised the PTO permitted registration of that and THRO alone for pillows, but I’ll go with it.  Especially with pillows like this one:

2.  Here comes Givenchy with yet another “flanker” perfume. This one flanks its Ange ou Demon brand, and is called Ange ou Demon Le Secret.  Uma Thurman as spokesmodel or not, any perfume that can be described as “fruitchouli rose bubblegum” is destined never to grace my shelf.  As for the name, it’s cumbersome even in French – and since Americans have trouble pronouncing even “Givenchy” correctly, I think uttering the whole mouthful would be a daunting prospect.

3.  Yuck.  Let me get that first one out of my system, though I warn you, there may be more.  New product from Dr. Perricone: Cold Plasma, an anti-aging wrinkle cream.  Yuck.  Now, I suspect there are problems on the false advertising front, particularly if the formula doesn’t contain actual cold plasma.  But I’m going to focus on the registration, because there’s a minefield out there.  The PTO, once again snoozing and clueless, let this application go straight through without objection, which just blows my mind.  I’m sorry, if it contains “cold plasma” it’s descriptive and thus unregistrable, and if it doesn’t, it’s deceptively misdescriptive and thus unregistrable.  Am I the only one to whom the mark suggests that the product contains cold plasma?  Yuck.  Yet there is no information on the Perricone site to indicate that the product has any connection to plasma whatsoever.  Finally, and I’m just saying, the statement of use for the COLD PLASMA was filed before the CAFC BOSE decision – wouldn’t you have been careful about filing a statement of use saying the mark was in use on all of the goods in the application when in fact I just don’t see the website showing any lip products or cleansers bearing the mark?  But that’s just me and my over-caution.  And?  Yuck.

4.  Macy’s INC brand advertises its spring chic line with the tagline “Edge & Flow.”  Like this?

5.  Not Soap, Radio bath and beauty products.  Cute product line, not a bad name, but why the comma?  The exhaustive Wikipedia etymology of the phrase “No soap, radio” provides ample history and analysis of the phrase and the jokes in which it was used (I just thought it was another of the myriad ways my mother has for saying no).  Based on that history, I conclude that the comma is optional.  So why not leave it out of the brand name?  Are there many brands that include a comma?  And for that matter, why not just “No soap radio”?

As for the rest, it’s mostly extravagantly impractical footwear.  Really.  See you next month.

 
 

New Year Stuff and Nonsense

A happy 2010 to all!  Just a few observations here and there to get me back on my blogging feet again:

1.     Kind of liking ideeli as the name of a “members-only shopping community,” at least from a trademark perspective.

2.     Drove past a Dairy Queen recently and noticed signage is different from what I’d remembered.  Now it says DQ Grill & Chill:

Survey says: I love it!  I think it’s an excellent updating of the classic “Brazier food” designation (which I never failed to call “brassiere food”), and I think “Grill & Chill” is an excellent, suggestive slogan.  It may be old news, but it’s news to me.

3.     While I customarily counsel clients not to alter their trademarks or slogans because that can weaken them, I am not so doctrinaire that I cannot make exceptions.  As you may know, I have previously discussed my passion for the Beaver Creek ski resort slogan “Not exactly roughing it.”  Well, Beaver Creek recently opened an outdoor grill-your-own restaurant called Mamie’s Mountain Grill.  The setting is lovely, the burgers top-notch, and the drinks ridiculously strong, at least until the bartender gets a jigger.  But the best part is the banner at the entrance, where underneath the Mamie’s name, the sign reads “Slightly Roughing It.”

4.     Next, in the ever-popular and expanding “I do not think it means what you think it means” category, we have a few contestants:  (a) Sophistry Skin Care;  and (b) The Flow, “a glass journal for the flameworking community.”

5.     In the trademark overreaching event, we have – I know, shocking – the Olympic Committee, here in Canada, going after Lululemon Athletica* for marketing “a cheeky clothing line that’s named ‘Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition.'” One fine day I’ll sit myself down without the dog nipping at my feet to write the definitive post on nominative fair use, plain old fair use, sponsorship confusion, licensing, and why I have no damn problem with my local supermarket setting up a display with a sign “Get your Super Bowl party treats here!”  But until then I’ll just continue to blurt out sporadic rants like this one.

6.     Finally, as for the recent dustup over the unauthorized use by PETA and Weatherproof of photos of Michelle and Barack Obama, respectively, in advertising, I believe that both uses were wrong and actionable; I don’t see a free speech right to use a celebrity’s image, even if that celebrity is a political figure, for a wholly non-political, commercial purpose, in the Weatherproof case.  As for the PETA photo, I can think of many reasons for Michelle Obama not to want to be associated with PETA, regardless of her assertion that she doesn’t wear fur.  But all they really want is the publicity . . .

Once again, happy New Year to all. 

H/ts to Nancy and to my dear friend and jewelry-maker extraordinaire Peggy, who didn’t realize what a chuckle I’d get when I saw that she had become a fan of The Flow.

*Many moons ago, so long ago there’s no record of it in the PTO database, I worked on a trademark application for Lululemon.  Full disclosure and all . . .

          

Wonderful – it’s PH8!

I caught news of a new clothing store called PH8 in the Denver Post today.  My initial reaction was that they were trying too hard, so I thought I would check out their website to see what the story was.  Well, so far they haven’t disabused me of my first take:

PH8 brings together concepts that inspire balance, function and fashion, health and a positive vibe. The name takes its inspiration from the lucky Asian number 8, along with the symbol for infinity. The idea of fate is entwined with the brand, which looks to the future with optimism and endless possibilities.

While I was relieved to see that they’d spelled “its” properly, and certainly don’t think this brand rises (or sinks, as it were) to the level of Teenflo for clothing, the explanation for the name is pretty tortured.  On the other hand, PH8 is being launched by Bebe, (another brand for women’s clothing I’ve never quite grasped) as a replacement for its Bebe Sport line. Yippee, more go-anywhere yoga wear!  

Still, I wonder if whether in a struggling economy it’s wise to tempt the Fates by calling them out by name  . . . Nonetheless, for research purposes, I will undertake an expedition to their Park Meadows location to determine whether their clothing will, as they promise, enable me to “live life to its fullest.”  Somehow, if it all looks like this, I doubt it:

N.B. The title of this post, bland though it may seem, is out of a song from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” called “Been a Long Day,” and I was proud to portray Smitty in the Fox Lane High School performance of the musical – long before the Broadway revival starring Matthew Broderick.

Destination: The darker side of Disney?

A visit to Disney World would not be complete without numerous unnecessary purchases.  Let’s just say that we narrowly escaped coming home with a pith helmet in tow (and you know I’m using the term “we” generously).  One of Disney’s more charming inducements to purchase is its ten-year tradition of pin trading.  You buy a lanyard and a character or attraction-themed pin, and the World is your trading oyster.  Our oldest had started a lanyard on an earlier visit, and both girls were eager to acquire and trade pins this time, especially after I’d bribed them with the promise of a pin for each book completed by the end of the trip.

Disney’s always busy cross-marketing, and this time there was a lot of Tinkerbell merchandise to be found in the stores – apparently Tinkerbell is the new “hot” character being promoted in her own movie and all over a wide variety of clothing and accessories

Apparently Tink has undergone a metamorphosis to become less mute and decorative and more sassy and empowered.  While in theory that’s a laudable goal, the Tinkerbell pin I found suggests that she might have gone a bit overboard with the sassy.  Yes, I think Disney’s moved into at least the PG-13 realm with this one – Introducing Truckstop Hooker Tink:

Well, at least that’s what we called her for the duration of the trip.  But Morning-after Tink would work, don’t you think?  How about Amsterdam Red-light Tink (my precocious 13 year-old’s suggestion)? Place Pigalle Tink?

For my money, she’s way more fun than a pith helmet.  But seriously, Disney, did you think about this?  Did you look at her?  If this is sassy, I don’t think sassy means what you think it means.

Follow-up

Was it only a year and a half ago that we experienced the trauma of the opening day of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in London on our way to Paris?  Oy.  In the words of Samuel Goldwyn, we’ve all passed a lot of water since then.  Anyway, after that trip I wrote a post about the ACNE Jeans display we saw at Le Bon Marche in Paris, and for those who don’t feel like clicking on the link to reread it, suffice to say I expressed great derision for the mark.

Well, lo and behold, the New York Times has an article today about exactly that Acne Jeans company.  The Times, kinder than I am, merely dubs the name “off-putting.”  But what they do reveal is the etymology of the name: It is an acronym for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.”  Yes, take a deep breath.  It’s that lame. 

My mission now?  To create an award that will serve as the anti-Alt-0174 award for the crappiest name.  Whatever it will be named, I think Acne wins, with bonus points for its clunky acronym.