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.

Because I am a sucker for insight into lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the schadenfreude that reading about that brings, I just took advantage of a $2 subscription to Town & Country magazine. Dazzled, I tell you, I was dazzled by all of the jewels shown “price upon request” and the name-dropping of royals throughout.

I was less dazzled, I must confess, at the egregious misspelling of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris as “Bologne.” That’s a firing offense for any publication (in my exacting view of the world), but particularly in one where all things Paris are considered the ne plus ultra.

Also concerning – though more on an annoyance level – was the script used to promote this perfume from Sisley:

Well? You tell me what that first letter is. Oh, I see, it’s in the hashtag. But wait, is that an i or a lowercase L? And then I just decided,  having seen Sisley products in French department stores, that in the immortal words of my mother, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (And perhaps recognizing the impenetrability of this script, Sisley added a more legible font to its promotion of this perfume on its website.)

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!

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:

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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 …

 

Thanks to the INTA annual meeting in May and the Rocky Mountain IP and Technology Institute in June, my brain is chock-full of trademark knowledge and case law. Hence my having to take a snap of this establishment’s name immediately:

Freezbee

That’s FreezBee, for frozen yogurt. So, if we were in the US, would that be dilution? Likelihood of dilution? Does dilution even exist? What dilutive harm could the owner of the trademark possibly assert? This may all be academic, as it looks like the FRISBEE trademark may have fallen to generic status, and its ownership is certainly flaky. Still, it’s a fun fact pattern, and evidence of where my brain goes even on vacation in Paris.

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.

 

 

 

 

Bellapierre

 

This item was in my daughter’s Ipsy bag this month. Where do I begin?

Okay, we have “bella,” which is Italian for beautiful, mashed together with “pierre,” which is French for stone. Except “bella” bears an extraneous and incomprehensible accent mark; the combination sort of means “beautiful stone” (and it’s sheer coincidence that I photographed it on my granite countertop). I know I am meant to ignorantly assume that the accent mark imparts a certain quelle-heure-est-il cachet to the product but alas, I cannot. Rather, I am stuck repeating two of my constant refrains when it comes to trademarks: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” – and “I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.

My daughter says the the liner is highly pigmented and is looking forward to using it and was happy to relinquish the packaging to her obsessive mother.

I have noted in the past (sorry for the missing photo; it was of a brand called Redskins) that the French may have a bit more leeway than we do about using Native American nomenclature in their ads and products; yes, it may be culturally insensitive, but they’re an ocean away and bear less culpability for the ills inflicted on our native populace. Still, I don’t think that leeway extends as far as this company would like to take it:

sioux

This ad copy is translated as “In Sioux country, for the pretty ‘Red Skins,’ an incantation is uttered by the Shaman of the Tribe: May My Red Spots Disappear!”

First of all, “May My Red Spots Disappear”? Doesn’t really flow off the tongue as a brand name. Second, what is that photo? A winged serum bottle on a rope? Third, are these two ads for one company’s two products on one page? My middle-aged eyes are bugging out of my head! Fourth and finally, shaman? Really?

I was not surprised to find this ad in the cheap pages at the end of the magazine. That should be the most prominence it ever gets – before it hits la poubelle, that is!

 

 

More TJ Maxx antics:

provance

Just decide on one and stick with it. But I’ll give you a hint – it’s Provence! (Also, this chateau appears not to exist at all. Tant pis.) This wooden tray was tempting, and you know I love a good typo, but helas, this was not marked down enough.

Yes, though it’s been a month since we got back from Paris, it’s taken me time to get to my magazines. So here’s Exhibit A – a brand name I kind of like:

Hipanema

… even though my iPad keeps wanting to change it to Hip Anemia.

I get this one, but am not so sure it’s easily understood by all:

Pois moi

Sooooo, where to begin? Well, pois in French means “polka dots.” Pas moi means “not me.” So “pois moi”? Pois also means “peas.” So pois moi = peas me?  I’m just a bit confused, once again because I know too much here. Don’t get me wrong though – I’d be very happy to wear one of these beauties around my wrist!

I’m not sure what Guerlain is saying here:

Yes, lashes from hell. If hell is other people, what are lashes from hell? This has been your existential advertising question du jour.
____________________________
With thanks to Daughter #1 for, at my request, shlepping French magazines home from her choir’s tour of Barcelona and Nice. It’s the least she could do …
 

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.