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.

Lax blogging. Trying to get back in the saddle again. So:

A much-belated update on the family job front. My dear husband is now a partner of Seed IP Law Group, in Seattle. BUT WE DIDN’T MOVE THERE! How is that possible, you ask? Technology, my friends. Marc is connected to the office and spends a week there a month, but works 75% of the time out of our home office. He’s loving it and we’re loving reconnecting with friends and family and former colleagues in the city where we spent over 15 years of our lives together.

Why am I boring you with this? Because trademarks and stuff, of course! Pop culture!

Pop culture first, of course. Food shopping at New Seasons, the gourmet supermarket on Mercer Island that had the nerve to open only after we moved away:

Yep, they’re pretty insistent about the local provenance of their goods. Kinda made me think of this. It’s local.

Next, there’s the witty, pop-culture-referential advertising for the Puget Sound Trip Planner App:

Bad photo. It says, at the bottom, “Wherever you go, there we are.” I cannot resist a Buckaroo Banzai reference.

Finally, not even in Seattle but just because, here I manage to hit two of my main sweet spots, Francophilia and grammar/spelling errors:

WTF, people, fromage is masculine. So just because you want to be even cutesier, even Frenchier, that doesn’t mean that you make petit into petite. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS! (This is a line we’re going to be repeating a lot these days, I fear.)

Anyway, happy New Year from the blog! This year in Barcelona, for all you INTA folks!

The second daughter is a first year at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, a haven for music and liberal arts tucked into a part of the country I never dreamed I’d visit. I’ve now been to Appleton four times, and I crack up every time I see this:

kippa-law

Is this just short for Jewish Kippa Law? Is there a skullcap specialization of which I wasn’t previously aware?

 

The second daughter has now been comfortably (if humidly) installed at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. It’s a lovely little school with an undergraduate conservatory, and we will be happy to see our daughter enjoy a music-filled liberal arts education there.

Of course, there were items of interest along the way; after the freshman convocation I spirited my husband away to the historic Stone Cellar Brewpub (no relation, alas), where I’d dined with Daughter #1 when touring Lawrence, to enjoy the food and drink that makes Wisconsin famous: beer and cheese curds.

curds

They did not disappoint. We also learned that Stone Cellar is Wisconsin’s oldest brewery still in operation. Here’s an example of a bottling from when it was the George Walter Brewing Co., circa 1918:

beer

But the time came for us to bid our daughter farewell, and after a stop to visit cousins in Illinois (the best kind of cousins – ones who own a spectacular bed & breakfast with superb food [and yes that was a shameless plug]), we were left with a long and boring drive back to Denver on I-80.

What, then, besides listening to Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends, kept us awake and motivated? Great barbecue in Des Moines, and wondering what could’ve possessed anyone to come up with this name for a fast food joint that we saw throughout Nebraska:

runza

Because all I can think of is someone saying in a crappy Italian accent, “don’t eat there, it gives you da runzas.” (Also, trademark pro tip: you don’t need to use the ® symbol every single time the mark appears on your website, particularly when you’re referring to the company rather than the stores and services they provide.)

Anyway, thanks to our younger daughter for following in her big sister’s footsteps by choosing a school outside of our customary geographic comfort range and thus allowing us to see more of the USA than we ever expected to!

 

 

My sister and brother-in-law are on an Alaska cruise, soaking up the natural beauty of the 49th state.

They’re also sending me a steady stream of photos such as this:

Alaska

And this:

Mickey Moose

What’s the deal, guys? Frontier lawlessness? Too far away to be caught?

Stick with the natural beauty, guys. It can’t be beat:

orcas

(Photos courtesy of Phyllis Stone!)

 

 

I have been complaining for as long as I’ve been traveling to France that Paris’s main airport, Charles de Gaulle, or Roissy, as it’s known locally, is a confusing, messy dump of an airport. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

But on this visit, I noticed some promising changes. Specifically, to the bathrooms in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 – they were clean and well-lighted and well-appointed, far better than I’d seen in the past.

And in Terminal 3, I was able to spot a new and interesting brand:

JUSTINESY

I thought perhaps this was some weird attempt to sound English-ified, but the etymology is in fact far less interesting; the company that owns the brand is Justinesy Frères and they’re a big hygiene products distributor; Patrick Justinesy is its chairman.

Still, I would like to think that someone at CDG besides me is just feeling a little bit, say,  justinesy, about their soap today …

The stairwell of the apartment we rented in Paris held this trademark gem:

13510459_10209423753172022_1902973996_n

You would think this would be a shining example of a brand that’s absolutely incapable of crossing the Atlantic thanks to its English meaning. (I’m not sure if its significance is the same to British English speakers; if it is, the poor mark shouldn’t even be able to cross the Channel!) However, the mark has been registered here in the US, and Puky products are apparently available for sale here in the US. I just can’t imagine how successful a product bearing that name could be. Then again, Acne Jeans are so hot these days …

 

I spent my junior year of college in Paris, on Middlebury College’s year abroad program. It was an amazing, eye-opening, exciting and educational year. I made friends who are among my closest today; I honed my French, became an honorary Paris native, saw old movies, learned how to drink –  basically all one could want from a year abroad.

It’s clear to me now that my destiny as a trademark lawyer was being forged even back then – back in the early 80s, long before I thought about law school. Why? Because I was obsessed with the (then and now) hilarious English-esque brands adopted by French companies. This one never failed to elicit gales of laughter:

Flunch

We native English speakers simply couldn’t resist genericizing the term, e.g., “where should we flunch?” Yet somehow, we could never bring ourselves to flunch at Flunch. Grim fast food just wasn’t on our agenda, which probably predicted the foodies some of us are today. I’m still always amazed by the throngs in Paris at Flunch and McDo’ and their ilk. I can’t believe Flunch is still alive – but I’m glad it is so that I can relive the chuckles of my college days.

Levy summer vacation time! Yippee! This year, Paris via Copenhagen. Why Copenhagen again? Because we loved it last summer, and it was the cheapest fare from Denver. Our girls loved Tivoli, we rekindled our romance with herring at Restaurant Amalie, and generally cracked ourselves up at the incomprehensible and impenetrable Danish language.

Also, chewy candy cars:

bilar candy cars

Stay tuned for more European branding antics!

The big island of Hawaii: Hiking through Volcanoes National Park on ground younger than I am; unbelievable fresh fish; whale watching; the rainbow of tropical fish visible to even the novice snorkeler … basically, it’s paradise.

Also, if you forgot your own, you can buy or rent one, apparently:

AllAboutBabies

Sometimes you honestly don’t know where product brand names come from, especially if you’re a bargain shopper like I am and you frequent off-brand, low price establishments like TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning (the latter of which makes me really feel like I’m slumming it). So often at such stores it’s a challenge to separate the wheat from the knockoff chaff. So when I saw this one I was pretty confident it was chaff:

GELA

Where do I begin? Well, how about Sicily? Gela is a small city on the southwest coast of Sicily that is the home of a huge oil refinery. Which therefore makes it the Secaucus of Sicily, and Gela is only prettier because – hey – Sicily v. New Jersey in a cage fight isn’t even remotely fair.

Thus, having been to Gela, I can’t ever consider it a lovely brand name for any product. And I figure that any company that named its product Gela had never been to Gela, and if they weren’t smart enough to research the name of a pretty town in Sicily – of which there are many – for their product, then I can’t trust them to make a product that is worth my investment.

Not sure if everyone else views things my way, but I’m sticking to it!

Apologies for the hiatus. Getting daughter #2 into college is no less time-consuming than #1 was. Stay tuned.

So here’s something from a weekend in Ventura, California this summer:

wienerschnitzel

Crappy photography, but it’s Wienerschnitzel, “The World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain.” Ummm, isn’t Wiener Schnitzel that delicious dish of breaded and pounded veal made famous in Vienna (hence Wiener)? Why yes it is. How did we get from veal to drive-through hot dogs? Well, we borrowed wiener for hot dog long ago and its use was made ubiquitous in the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle that pretty much anyone of a certain generation can sing start to finish. I am guessing that this is one of those situations where Americans hear a certain foreign phrase and use it irrespective of whether it means what they think it means. That is, they hear wiener and know they’ve heard wienerschnitzel so assume the two are related and why not name the wiener joint something that sounds foreign?

Well, they are related, but from a trademark perspective I actually think the name is deceptively misdescriptive! If I see a place called Wienerschnitzel, because I know what real Wiener Schnitzel is, I’m going to be disappointed when I find there’s none on the menu. But once again, I suspect I’m not the target demographic. And what those who haven’t tasted the real thing don’t know won’t hurt them.

 

Nancy Friedman has long deplored the trend of companies adopting newfangled and often ridiculous-to-pronounce or -spell names (Hello S’Moretgage). There are some companies, however, that in my humble opinion could use a bit of updating. One that comes to mind immediately is Tacoma Screw Products, long the butt of jokes from Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd (one thing I do miss about Seattle). Because, really, when your name is that hilarious the derision can far outweigh the value of the name’s communicative nature.

The same goes for this company, captured in pixels by my cousin Nancy (not to be confused with the earlier-cited Nancy):

Cleveland Vibrator

Oh dear … On the bright side, however, the first page of Google search of the company brings up only family-friendly (or I should say, “industry-friendly”) listings. I decided not to forge on, however.

You do have to feel for these companies that incorporate descriptive terms that have an unfortunate second meaning into their names – and then you can continue to laugh like you’re twelve again!

 

Spotted in Denmark: Two brands that fall into the category that Nancy Friedman calls “imperative-verb business names.” I like to call them hortatory marks.

The first is the fabulous hotel we stayed in, STAY Copenhagen. No, the name wouldn’t work in the US. “Where’d you stay?” “STAY.” “No, I asked you.” You get the picture. No matter, it was a fantastic sleek, Danish modern (duh) hotel where they upgraded us to the penthouse suite for no apparent reason, and where we luxuriated in style with views of the up-and-coming neighborhood and the river. Not to mention the heartbreakingly attractive staff and the cute grocery store downstairs with fresh strawberries to die for … Okay, I digress. But STAY plays cute with its name, as you can see here on the Do Not Disturb sign:

stay copenhagen

And if you plunk around on its website, you’ll see they really leverage the “stay” wording, in a way that I’d hate for a US trademark client but can be much more permissive about where English doesn’t reign entirely supreme.

In the same imperative vein, we were exhorted to have lunch at Yo! Sushi at the Copenhagen airport:

yo sushi

My reaction? More like Yo! I’m still hungry but I have no money left!

 

 

Our beloved 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Sexauer (I kid you not!) is responsible for probably fully half of my prodigious vocabulary. Every week he assigned a list of spelling and vocabulary words from the book we were reading, and we dutifully memorized those definitions verbatim.* So when I was uploading this photo and considering what to write in light of my scatology theme, I had a flashback to one of those tests:

rump lyft

Yes, that’s right: Eschatology – “the study of great ends.”

Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server.

_______________________
* I’m really not kidding. To wit: “Epigram – witty pointed saying.” “Sophistry – unsound series of clever-sounding reasoning.” “Atavistic – return to the primitive.” Mr. S generally presented the definition of this last one by jumping down on all fours underneath an unwitting student’s desk. There truly was nothing like 10th grade honors English at Fox Lane High School back in the 70s.