Doing it right

(Warning: A trademark prosecution geek post.)

Seven months and one week. That’s about my record, from filing to issuance of the registration certificate, for a use-based application:

It doesn’t always go this smoothly or quickly – sometimes you file with an ID that you actually want the PTO to help you fine-tune; other times you’re blindsided by a refusal ground that comes from left field. And of course, there are very important reasons for filing based on intent to use, which can significantly increase the filing-to-registration time span. But it’s reassuring to know that the system can work efficiently and (relatively) quickly when you get it all right up front.

You made it through this dry technical stuff? Have a doggy photo!


Dog my cats!

I cannot believe that after six and a half years of dog ownership I only just figured out the genesis of this product name:


Kudos, however belatedly.



Many years ago, I encountered (and am desperately sorry I cannot remember where) the charming phrase “lying around like a lox.” Anyone who’s seen a full side of lox will find the phrase beautifully evocative. I then extrapolated from that the coinage “loxin’ around the house,” something I do a lot of, often with dogs in tow.

Well, a recent visit to Ulta brought me another variation on the theme:


That’s right, snoxin. You’re loxin’? You’re snoozin? You’re both right – you’re SNOXIN!

A visit to the indeed labs (and despite the fancy smooshed “i” and “n” the URL is “”) website offers a wealth of other marks to probe, including “Matrixyl 3000 … [with] messenger molecules, Matrikines” and “SYN-AKE … an effective wrinkle smoothing compound”; re the latter, is it short for “synapse ache” or am I just falling into an ingredient name-generation syn-ake pit? See what I did there? Oy. As for Matrikines, that definitely rings of sci-fi and not science to me – perhaps a tribe of female supercows?

Fun fact about “snoxin” as a name? When you say it out loud while shopping at Ulta with your teenaged daughter, you will dissolve into hysterics and people will think you’re crazy.

In any event, would you like a visual aid to better grasp what I now conceive of as snoxin? Because snow’s coming again, and I’m sure we’re going to be back at it soon.

doges snoxin

You’re welcome.


Chop-and-jam … and woof

Nancy, as no one will be surprised to hear, always does an excellent job of pointing out just which portmanteau names and brands are elegant, and which are clumsy. And “chop-and-jam” is an excellent way to describe this clunky one, which combines “veterinary” and “ethical” to form nothing at all elegant:

I feel like I’m lisping the word “vesicle” – which is not a word I use all that often.

But why the vet bag, you ask?

Here’s why – meet Pippin:

I’ll endure a few lousy portmanteaus  (-teaux?) for his cuddles.

Dog days of summer

Already it’s a scorcher, especially back east where my kids are at camp. But I’ve got people all over the country braving the heat to leave their air-conditioned cars to snag me photos of entertaining shop names. This one’s from Bethesda, MD:

Dog stuff and a French pun? Love it!

I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it

Can someone please help me out with this one? I’m having a bit of difficulty here:

It’s a pet food/stuff brand that I found at Sprouts. I see from probing around that the brand name is the title of an Avett Brothers song (You may recognize it better by the refrain “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.” Or not.) The company’s website makes it even more complicated by saying “We’re ‘I and love and you.'” To me it sounds like reading a teenager’s text message out loud.

My verdict: as a song title, “I and love and you” is clunky enough; as a brand name, it’s just confusing.

(And yes, I’ve used this post title before. But the wisdom of Lucille Bluth cannot be invoked often enough.)

Destination: The ski resorts of Summit County, Colorado

We need more snow, but that didn’t stop us from heading to the mountains for the MLK weekend. Some good skiing, some good dining (mostly thanks to yours truly – try this for a crowd-pleaser), and some interesting branding.

First, at Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Microbrewery in Dillon, good food and good beer AND smutty beer names:
Made us think back to driving past the Church of the Big Wood near Sun Valley in Idaho … (there’s gotta be a better way to say that!)
Then, in the “glad I don’t represent large luxury brands so I don’t have to be a bad guy” category we have this one from the main drag in Breckenridge:
Very cute poodles inside and out, but not a name I’d have chosen – at least not without solid legal representation and the money to spend on it!

December Birchbox

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling … It’s the “All Wrapped Up” December Birchbox delivery, and I appreciate its celebratory yet non-denominational enthusiasm – i.e., the accompanying card is not red and green with holly on it.

What’s the haul this time?
First, a repeater:
Apothederm is mincing no words here – Another year? Another wrinkle? Count me in. I still say the name sounds like “a pachyderm,” however.
Next, another brand repeater:
I still don’t think Juicy Couture skews to my demographic, and can’t imagine that its marketers targeted 50-somethings with the tagline “Smells Like Couture.” When I see a “Smells Like …” tagline, I immediately think of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana’s smash hit from its 1991 album Nevermind. I don’t want a fragrance inspired by grunge rock, okay? Birchbox, please: If you’re sending perfume samples, Taylor Swift and Juicy are just plain wrong when I’ve ticked the 45-55 box!
Sometimes, marketing people just work too hard, and here’s an example:
The company that makes this product, The Balm, appears to have adopted wisecracking 40s Hollywood glamour as its M.O., and that’s fine, though a bit close to Benefit’s vibe. This product is a “luminizer” – hence, Mary-Lou Manizer. Get it? Actually, I’m being a mite harsh. Lots of their names are quite cute – BalmsAway for eye makeup remover; BalmShelter for lip gloss, TimeBalm facial cleanser, for example. Mary-Lou Manizer just seems strained in comparison.
Another name I don’t understand: 
I thought it was LA as in “ellay,” the city, rather than “la” as in the French article, but their website shows otherwise. What can I say, I just don’t like the sound of it. Fresh is totally weak in the cosmetics area, so it’s hard to distinguish yourself from, for example, this company. And adding “la,” which means “the,” isn’t enough. I do like some of their other good names (e.g., Divas & Studs canine care products), as well as their conservation focus, but fundamentally find the name La Fresh to be … not so fresh?
Finally, a timely travel shampoo for the gym: 
The brand here is Number 4 (apologies for the photo quality). Why 4 – I mean, I know why not 2, but still? (Couldn’t help myself there – sorry.) 
A look at the company website reveals an inspiration statement, and here’s where the stars align: It’s Paris. Yes, Number 4 is “inspired by French culture, virtues and debonair ideals.” Whatever that means. So this product, from the Lumiere d’Hiver line, is somehow supposed to be connected to the fourth arrondissement in Paris, otherwise known as the Marais district. 
That’s all well and good, but “Lumiere d’Hiver“? Winter light? Have you been to Paris in the winter? Not only have I been there, but I’m heading there very soon for Noel. And the forecast is for wet, gray weather. So if we’re talking natural light, it’s not a connotation that speaks to enhancing the beauty of my hair. However, if it’s the artificial lights and festive displays of Christmas, that could work. I’ll just have to let you know.
So a Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee a tous – and with any luck there will be destination blogging aplenty in the nouvel an!

In front of my nose

With all this doggy recovery, I’m not getting out much. I have to keep a close watch on the dog to prevent her from jumping, so unless I confine her to the unbearable hell of her crate, I stay at home.

So for trademark fun I’m mostly limited to the world inside the house. But there’s still plenty to find. Why, in fact, right in front of me on my desk:
“Look ma, new hands”? Love it. Nice job by Bath & Body Works
I won’t deny that having a dog cuddling on my lap while I watch TV is a grand way to while away a lazy afternoon. Now that the election is over and swing-state commercials no longer clutter the airways, I occasionally watch live TV. And the new Walgreens slogan is just delightful:
This cheerful slogan, in a modern font, is a solid attempt to bring the more stodgy Walgreens name and logo into the 21st century.
And this? Sauté on? Is this some cooking phraseology with which I’ve managed to be unfamiliar despite obsessive reading of cookbooks and cooking blogs?
Luckily, I’m getting furloughed this weekend, so stay tuned for Destination blogging!

Thinking about drinking with my ladybrain

So what William Grimes in the NY Times doesn’t ask is this: Are the wines with these rude names worth drinking? I guess I’ll have to do the dirty work. If the “bitch category,” as he phrases it, actually has some good wines to offer, I’ll throw my hat in the ring, or tip my glass, or whatever metaphor needs mixing. If not, I’ll just stick with this bitch:

Drinking with my ladybrain, part 3

My toy poodle hasn’t been featured recently in these pixels (hey, I can’t really say “in these pages,” now, can I?) but she’s always either on my mind or at my feet. I recently let my daughters take a stab assisting me with Ladybrain shopping at Incredible Wine & Spirits, one of our wine shopping mainstays. In loving tribute to our Reggie, they quickly zeroed in on this one:

While in most circumstances I’ll say “French? Poodle? Wine? What could be bad?” I’ll make an exception here, and say merely that if “I love the label” is your main criterion for purchase (and you love poodles too), this may be your wine. If you like good wine, however, this may not be your wine. It has less acid than I expect to see in a California Sauvignon Blanc, and its fruit fades quickly. I’ve drunk worse, though, and could see this being serviceable on a hot summer afternoon.

However, the back label gives me serious concern. A poem, “by” the wine’s apparent mascot, Sark, (Sark?), contains this stanza:

Get Petted, Sleep Alot.

Did the wavy or dotted lines under “alot” in your word processing program not tip you off? My dog, thank you very much, can spell. In English and French, bien sur.

Lawyers in love

My husband and I have been married for 18 years. He is a trademark litigator, while I do trademark prosecution. We speak each other’s unspoken language . . . fluently. (1)


So when I showed him this trademark layout on our toothpaste this morning (which appears on the toothbrush package below as well), 

our trademark-addled minds simultaneously and seamlessly came to the same conclusion: the “with an extra” language had to have been added at the behest of a trademark lawyer. Is this statutory fair use? Can we realistically believe that the consumer sees that tiny print? Are they trying to elude an infringement challenge? Would this be a good exam question for law students? These are the types of questions that keep the Levy lawyers awake at night!

No, it’s not a very glamorous existence, and yes, we do occasionally talk about other things, though our daughters would disagree. I will grant you that other two-lawyer couples with two daughters and a black and white fuzzy dog may be more prestigious and accomplished – 

– but it’s nice to know I married someone who doesn’t find it weird when I read the toothpaste and in fact will grab it out of my hands to read it himself! You gotta keep the relationship lively!


(1) Jackson Browne’s song, by the way, is really not about lawyers at all, but it’s a great song.

Doggy. Style.

I’m a big fan of good (and not-so-good) magazine titles.  Having a dog has broadened my horizons in many ways, not the least of which has been exposure to a new world of naming.

This magazine – its name and its tagline – just thrill me:

My favorite fictional dog magazine title, hands down, is, of course American Bitch, from the brilliant and warped mind of Christopher Guest, in the movie Best in Show.  Yes, if Reggie had been all white, we’d have had no choice but to name her Rhapsody, even with only one mommy.

Photo from

RIP My InStyle Subscription

See?  I knew the minute I mentioned my InStyle subscription mentioned my InStyle subscription it’d mysteriously terminate.  So now I just have to score the stuff on the street, or at least at Snappy Nails, my salon of choice.  

So what did I find this time?  Mentions of a moisturizer line called CeraVe.  Now there’s a name whose pronunciation stumps me.  Cera, as in Michael, plus “vee”?  Suh-RAVE?  Their website doesn’t provide much insight on the topic, but it does offer contact info for their PR agency, as well as convenient jpg photo files.  Why thank you, don’t mind if I do:

I don’t know, I find their use of SK*INformation to be somewhat twee, a word I just don’t get to use enough.  So I think I’ll stick with Michael Cera, thank you.

Next, I saw an ad for Bodycology skin care products.  Well, once again, it’s a mark that doesn’t move me.  Why?  Because it reminds me of “mycology,” the study of mushrooms.  And I really don’t want anything that suggests mushrooms near my body, sorry.

Apart from InStyle, there’s always People. In one Sandra Bullock-riddled issue I did spot an ad for a product whose name I think bears reconsideration: the Always Infinity sanitary napkin.  Apart from the fact that I think the term “sanitary napkin” has fallen out of usage, I can tell you that the word “infinity” is one I really don’t want to hear in connection with menstruation.

But without InStyle in my mailbox, I’ll just have to rely on my faithful online sources of information.  Jezebel, thankfully, never fails me.  Today they report on a doggie nightclub (yes, I recognize the absurdity) called Fetch.  Ridiculous concept, but the fact that they actually made fetch happen is pretty awesome.  Jezebel also has an outstanding expose on lewd and lurid vodka advertising.  These ads have to be seen to be believed.  

Finally, Nancy Friedman is a never-ending online source of trademark and branding novelties.  Her comprehensive and hilarious account of eye-popping Japantown brand names just makes me hungry for some good ol’ Vermont Curry.

Destination: Mt. Kisco

The coincidence of spring break and Passover brought us home to Mt. Kisco, NY for a few days.

(Mt. Kisco town hall on a much sunnier day than when we were there; photo thanks to Google Maps).

While we were there the girls went to their grandma’s hair salon for trims;  next door is a doggie day care called “Reining Cats and Dogs.”  And that was quite an apt name, as the rain was relentless. 

A grand time was nonetheless had by all; best wishes for a happy Pesach.  We will finish the break in New Mexico, thus having covered three “New” states (York, Jersey and Mexico) in one vacation, an accomplishment only a geek could love.

While the puppy sleeps

Apologies for being such a bad blogger.  I have been consecrating puppy naptime to both client work and, as usual, laundry.

Two branding-related thoughts since the canine incursion into our household, however:

(1) Two friends recommended the dog food brand Royal Canin.  Okay, fine, but how do you pronounce “canin”?  Like “canine” in English, or as if the word were French?  Or “ca-neen”?  I am deeply troubled by this;  still, since Reggie likes it fine, I will continue to buy it and will try to turn off my overactive brain.

(2) Reggie came to us with an intestinal bug that required treatment with a drug called Panacur.  Last I checked my dictionary, “cur” was a derogatory term for an aggressive dog.  I’m at a loss for any further etymological detail about this product name (panacea + cure comes to mind, but why for this?); am I the only one who thinks it’s slightly offensive?  I mean, can you imagine an analogous pharmaceutical name for humans? Beneschmuck?  Aidadick?  Am I missing something?  I plead sleep deprivation, so it’s definitely possible I’ve missed something in my daily torpor.

And now, said cute puppy with her favorite toy.  No, not me.