Illiteracy in America

How on earth are we to expect kids these days to spell right when we create brand names with pointless misspellings?

There’s no reason I can think of to spell “divine” the way Valspar – now Sherwin-Williams does here; the term would be equally registrable and protectable as a (laudatory but not descriptive) trademark if spelled correctly. You lose at least two points here, says the spelling bee veteran.

But you get suspended for this one:

I blame Scrubs for making Elliot happen as a girl’s name (though I love the show, don’t get me wrong). But I blame dingbat parents – and here, toy companies – for distorting the name’s spelling, presumably to girlify it.  I’ve tried to wish it away as Ellie T – but no, that’s unjustified.

It’s a real shirt store

Not sure how I feel about this Breckenridge shop from a 43(a) standpoint:

shirt & ernie's

False suggestion of a connection? Not visually, with those emphatically-non-Muppet characters, but aurally? Discuss amongst yourselves.


Destination: Scandinavia. Part 1, Scatology

know, right? Not Paris, not Sicily. The Levys are branching out! We took advantage of Volvo’s spectacular overseas delivery program to visit Denmark and Sweden, and we were not disappointed. (Except by the rain and cold. If I never see a certain v-necked gray sweater of mine again, it’ll be too soon.) Great food, scenery, museums, and people. The language, not so much; devoted readers know what a language whiz kid I think I am, but Swedish and Danish? Just impenetrable.

Still, there was entertaining/scatological branding galore. First on the list? This charming hat shop in Copenhagen:


Is that just like a small fart? I can’t even begin to guess, because the language, as I said, is impenetrable.

Next, also in Copenhagen, we have an impenetrable carshare slogan:

Smart i en fart

But funny, of course, because I’m twelve.

Next stop, a 7-11 at a gas station on the highway in Sweden, where we drove our new Volvo to visit my husband’s college roommate. (Think “Welcome to Sweden” but in reverse. Sort of.) And though we really had to get back on the road, I honestly could’ve spent all day savoring product names … like this one:


And this men’s shop was closed when we walked by, thus suggesting it didn’t live up to its name:


That’s the entertaining start to our Scandinavian odyssey; more to come!

Edited to add that Funny Or Die has already made the Fart Car a reality. (H/t my friend Leslie at Blythe’s Blog!)


Cleaning out my battery drawer

Could a less enticing headline exist anywhere? I think not. But one thing that did grab me was that Duracell really knows how to protect its trade dress. And just now, you’re probably thinking “the coppertop battery,” right? Well, so are they:

The battery has a copper top, so “coppertop” would be descriptive as a trademark and thus not registrable. But the copper top serves no function for the battery, so the result is that the copper top serves to identify Duracell as the source of batteries with copper tops. How does Duracell reinforce the recognition of that trade dress? With its constant repetition of “the coppertop battery” in its television ads, and with the legend in the photo above pointing out that copper top. That’s how you protect trade dress.

TV overload

Game of Thrones has ended for the season, and while I enjoy it, I confess that I don’t really understand everything that’s going on – and I made a half-hearted attempt to read the books! Still, it’s gripping TV, and having read the books, I’m fascinated by the naming conventions George R.R. Martin uses to identify the characters in his fictional worlds, and I’m not the only one. So when I saw this drug ad, 

all I could think was “Xarelto … Is he Dothraki, or from Qarth?”

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!

Too much work for a drink

One of my general admonitions for clients about their trademarks is that they should neither turn them into plurals nor chop them off to make nicknames.  There are exceptions to every rule – Coca-Cola became Coke, and Federal Express became FedEx, with little damage to the brand’s renown or image.

I am not so sure it works as well in this case:

I’m sorry, “Belve” just does not roll trippingly off the tongue. It’s too close to “belch.” Is it a combination of “belch” and “hive,” perhaps? Do you want to know? Do you hear yourself asking the bartender for a Belve and tonic, or a Belve martini straight up with a twist? No, you don’t, because it sounds ridiculous.

Then, to the ad itself: Tying “Belve” to “Believe,” with the inserted “ie” in a blurred, tomato-red font? All I can read there is “Lie.”  And I doubt that’s what they intended. But what did they intend here?  Believe in bloody Mary flavored vodka? Believe that this couple is getting dangerously close to Newport cigarette ad territory?

Alternatively, we can probe other paths they can take with Belve: “It’s twelve, time for Belve!” “Don’t shelve the Belve!” Or not . . .

Once again, I can only fall back on the immortal words of Lucille Bluth: I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.  And don’t forget while we’re talking Bluth lore (or at least I am, as I’ll never stop), vodka goes bad once it’s opened.

Miscellany from all around

Apologies for the blogging drought.  Thanksgiving and ski season, not to mention Chanukah (for which I’m woefully ill-prepared) are keeping me hopping already.  So let’s just call this post a potpourri of things that have flitted across the radar screen recently.

1.     Noted, in Plantation, FL, by my cousin Craig: a lawn service company truck bearing the name “Lawn Order.” 

2.     I’ve been agonizing over the new slogan adopted by the IFC movie channel, “Always, Uncut” for two reasons.  First, the comma: Not needed and frankly, confusing.  Because that brings me to the second point: Sorry, but given some of the offerings on IFC, “uncut” suggests a particular genre of movie that I am not entirely certain the channel wished to emphasize.  Basically, are we talking editing, commercial interruptions, or circumcision here – and whatever it may be, why the damn comma?

Thank you for your patience.  I have enough trouble with the idiotically-spelled Syfy channel’s moronic “Imagine Greater” slogan; this one serves only to reinforce my conviction that television naming is the opposite of reasoned.

3.     When I first exercised my urge to write about trademarks.

4.     Speaking of slogans, I’m not always a curmudgeon about them.  This weekend we’re heading off to ski at Beaver Creek, where their slogan is “Not exactly roughing it.”  If ever a phrase expressed my philosophy of life, that’s the one.

Photo of grooming cats from Beaver Creek website.

Signs of the end of trademark civilization, Vol. 1

The horror, the horror: Pending trademark applications for OCTOMOM.  Not only is it true, but someone beat Nadya Suleman to it and filed an application for OCTOMOM a month ago in classes 9, 28 and 41.  So expect a fun media battle with lots of misstatements about trademark rights, no doubt. 

The saddest thing?  Suleman’s class 41 application covers “Entertainment in the nature of on-going television programs in the field of varity [sic].” You say varity, I say variety – it’s still appalling.

H/t and eternal thanks to Nancy Friedman of Fritinancy

A Political Genericness Refusal

I say this over and over again: Certain terms and ideas are not capable of exclusive appropriation by one party as trademarks.  Keith Olbermann gives a stellar real-life example of my oft-repeated maxim in the context of what he sees as one party – here, the Republican party – attempting to appropriate for itself as its brand the tragedy of September 11, 2001. 

Kudos to Keith for his grasp of what a trademark is, and more importantly, for his insightful message.