Destination: Disney World’s Wee Britain and Japan

Okay, actually it’s the UK, but really, after you’ve seen the episodes of Arrested Development that take place there, would you really call Epcot’s World Showcase land anything else?

The shopping in all of Epcot is excellent, though there’s always some product name that elicits eye-rolling or guffawing. Like this one, for example:

epcot mint balls

 

I could’ve bought some to see how, exactly, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls would keep me all aglow, but I erred on the side of caution.

And this one, from the Mitsukoshi department store in Epcot’s Japan:

Hi-chew

Naturally, the only reply to the question “Would you like a Hi-Chew?” is “Gesundheit.”

Thanks. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.

More is often less

Would, or should, anyone really disagree with the proposition that the food you eat should taste good? I think not. But is that proposition on its own worthy of serving as a trademark? To wit:

Food Should Taste GoodW

I note that it’s registered, but think that registration won’t go far to enabling the mark’s owner to prevent others from saying – not using as a trademark – that food, in fact, should taste good. Your mission statement shouldn’t necessarily be the same thing as your trademark.

Similarly, if asked the question set out in this mark (which is registered, despite the absence of the symbol), I’d of course say “hell yeah,” though I wouldn’t necessarily view that question as a mark:

Wanna Betta Butt

While a slogan or catchphrase may be registrable with the PTO (because “Food should taste good” and “Wanna betta butt?” are not technically descriptive of the goods they designate), that doesn’t mean they’re good trademarks. Multiple word brand names do not roll trippingly off the tongue, are difficult to remember and thus susceptible to misidentification,* and ultimately make me think of one of Saturday Night Live’s most memorable fake brands, Oops! I Crapped My Pants!

 

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*Fun fact: I always refer to the women’s clothing store White House¦Black Market as “Black Tie, White Noise,” the name of a (highly underrated, IMHO) David Bowie album.

 

Portmantickled?

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:

snoxin

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 “indeedlabs.com”) 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.

 

Feh

I can’t decide what bothers me more about this product name:

woats

Is it (a) that the mark consists merely of the product’s main ingredient, with an additional letter slapped onto it? Or (b) that said mark rhymes with “goats”? Or (c) that when you try to pronounce it your mouth contorts uncomfortably and you’re not sure anyone can understand you? [Try it. I’ll wait. “Want some Woats?” See?] Or (d) that it reminds me of the egregious and (for me, at least) hackle-raising misspelling of “whoa” as “woah”?

I’m afraid it’s (e) All of the above, which is unfortunate, since the founder of the company has some very laudable goals for giving back to the community.

 

Unfortunate connotations

I’d rather not go into too much detail, but I’ll tell you that this product name –

snip

has the unfortunate consequence of making me think of this. And this timeless (heh) classic joke, which makes me really not want these chips, as if the cilantro weren’t enough to keep me away for life.  

Worse than melty

I can’t believe I haven’t yet found a reason to discuss my visceral disgust at the popular marketing term “melty.” What in dog’s name is wrong with “melted” and “melting,” I implore you? Every time I see a commercial using the term – and it rears its ugly head more and more often (though the public seems to have been cringing about it for many years now) – I scream at the screen. (I mean honestly, why not “meltish” then while we’re at it?)

So it was with even greater disgust that I turned over a package of Starbucks Via to see this fresh horror:

roasty

Yes, that’s “roasty.”

Now for a quick detour: I had the great honor and pleasure of being a guest lecturer on trademark prosecution at the University of Denver Law School last week, in a trademark class taught by the esteemed adjunct professor Marc Levy (okay, I had an in). And one of the topics I discussed my steadfast reminder to clients to look terms up in Urban Dictionary to make sure your new trademark isn’t a dirty word.

Let’s just say that Starbucks should’ve done that before forging ahead with its “roasty” usage.

 

Cognitive dissonance

I don’t know about you, but neither of my bubbes ever made mochi:

Bubbies

Bonus points for tortured translation of “ice cream” into French!

Destination: Germany and Lufthansa

Although our return flight from Frankfurt to Denver was unbearably crowded (how the 6’6″+ gentleman in front of us survived the legroom that crushed my 5′ frame I’ll never know), Lufthansa generally does a good job of feeding and watering its economy class passengers. And on its short hops, such as the one-hour flight from Munich to Frankfurt, you occasionally are treated to local goodies. German treats’ names can be quite entertaining – do you remember Fred Ferkel? Now meet Corny:

corny

Which name, of course, takes me, as it would, straight to Arrested Development. As usual, those who understand, will understand.

Destination: Caltagirone and Siracusa

Sometimes reality isn’t quite as poetic as I’d like. For example, this Stuffer brand yogurt that we ate in Siracusa –

stuffer

– would’ve been a perfect complement to this gut-stuffing breakfast that we ate in Caltagirone:

Caltagirone breakfast

Not that there was anything to complain about with respect to the actual content of the breakfasts!

Not just culture – trademarks too

We didn’t get enough of Sicily last time, so we decided to take the girls with us this summer after #1 graduated from high school. Once again, we made our way there via Munich, where a Lufthansa flight to Catania was the quickest way to get us to our destination, our friend Sally’s place at Marina di Ragusa in the south.

But first Munich – beer, beer, schnitzel, and beer. The Augustiner Keller and Zum Durnbrau restaurants were excellent, and the Neue Pinakothek a great place to escape the somewhat inexplicable crowds and 86 degree weather. And seeing old friends was the cherry on top of the sundae.

Or maybe this was:

Super Dickmann

Now, “dick,” in German, means “thick.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t save this mark from being absolutely hilarious in English. “Super thick man?” With what that item looks like? The small print doesn’t help either: “dick limitiert” means “thickly limits” or “thickly limited.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

In any event, Super Dickmann was only the beginning of a fantastic and fun-filled vacation. Stay tuned for more! Tschüss!

Department of redundancy department

I know in this mad, mad, world of watermelon Oreo cookies that companies often extend their product line with different flavors … but isn’t a pretzel always expected to taste like a pretzel? An apple with great apple taste? [Generic food item] that tastes like [same generic food item]?

Apparently not:

Something about this one just got to me – pretzels with a great pretzel taste. What will they think of next?
 

Double whammy

This just did me in:

No, it’s not white sauce. The closest we get to crème fraîche here at home is sour cream – which is not one of the ingredients found in either an American white sauce or a French béchamel. So “It’s White Sauce” is inaccurate and frankly, unappealing.

Two for the price of one?

I’ll bet that the graphic artist who designed this logo thought it was a brilliant idea to combine the dot on the “i” and the apostrophe here. Unfortunately, my eye thinks otherwise.

Remember, your URL doesn’t contain punctuation! Maybe make it Jenni with two Ns?

Destination: London Heathrow

Magazines for the return trip, of course. This time I found an ad in Marie-Claire UK that provided me with not just blog fodder, but trademark geek blog fodder:

What does this ad tell me about British trademark law? See the (R) after Pink Lady? Pink Lady is a cultivar* name – a cultivated variety of a plant. Under US law, cultivar names do not function as trademarks, and are therefore unregistrable. When a PTO examiner is faced with an application for a trademark for goods that include “live plants, agricultural seeds, fresh fruits, or fresh vegetables,” he or she must inquire of the applicant whether the term has ever been used as a varietal name, and whether such name has been used in connection with a plant patent, a utility patent, or a certificate for plant variety protection. [citation omitted] The examining attorney must also undertake an independent investigation of any evidence that would support a refusal to register, using sources of evidence that are appropriate for the particular goods specified in the application.” [emphasis added]

Why do I add emphasis? Because the PTO doesn’t always do its appointed duty, and registrations for cultivar names like ASPARATION and BROCCOLINI have slipped through.  I’ve actually investigated the PTO records on these registrations; there’s nothing in the respective file histories to indicate whether indeed the examiner made the necessary inquiry about plant protection. I think their registrations predate this comprehensive (and new, I think) language, and thus those registrations are probably bogus. But they’re there, registered, and, in my view, obstructing the rights of growers of that cultivar to call it what it is.

I’ve had clients in the past who have tried, unsuccessfully, to register cultivar names. As far as I’m concerned, cultivar names are the equivalent of generic drug names. You need to have a name to call the “drug that does x, y, and z” once its patent has expired so others may lawfully manufacture the drug; similarly, if others may lawfully grow the apple cultivar that’s been named Pink Lady, they shouldn’t be restricted from calling it Pink Lady.

And that’s what trademark geeks do when they read foreign magazines!

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*Bonus: Merriam-Webster online advises that cultivar rhymes with abbatoir, which opens up a world of possibilities.

Destination: London. And 2014.

Just got back from a week in rainy and sunny London, where there was lots to see, if you could get through the crowds. One highlight was the fish and chips here:

There’s nothing in my book like a good fish pun (see, e.g., the “Sole Man” video from the Fish episode of Bill Nye The Science Guy,* featuring my brother-in-law as part of the “Salmon Dave” duo), and while beyond pricey, the dish was outstanding.

Lots more to show you, but until then, all the best for a wonderful 2014.

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*Unavailable online, sadly, due to copyright restrictions.

Sehr lecker!

Went to a good German restaurant the other night. Bonus deli on the premises offered this tasty tidbit whose name had us rolling (or was that the schnitzel?):

Care for a Fred Ferkel, anyone?
 

Destination: Parigi

We stayed across the street from this restaurant when we were in Paris in 2008:


Our girls were 12 and 10 at the time, so you can imagine how much fun they had with this name! (It was also great pizza; too bad we strolled by on fermeture hebdomadaire day).

Destination: Paris (encore une fois!)

Once again, I headed to the ville lumiere; this time, accompanying my parents to attend the 80th birthday celebration of a dear family friend. So between the kilo of magazines I picked up at the airport (hey, we all have our drugs!) and the photos I took along the way, there’s plenty to blog about.

This is a restaurant whose name has amused me for the past several years, and I now share it for your amusement as well:

That’s “Speed Rabbit Pizza.” I always envision a rabbit on speed – if it were Speedy Rabbit, maybe it’d work? Peu importe, c’est amusant.

Stay tuned for more!
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We are not amused

As I’ve said before, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I’ll say it again:



I’m not even going to link to this one because it gets worse. Normally I’m a great booster of our local bounty, but this time I’ll pass. (Plus, salad dressing and marinades are about the easiest things a home cook can whip up, so I almost never buy bottled anyway.)