Since I got such an overwhelming response to my post yesterday (THANK YOU!) I thought I’d do a follow up post on what it means to trademark something and share common, every day words/items that you probably didn’t know are trademarked.
I was explaining the author story to my mom and she actually gave me a bit of insight in how the process works. A trademark is basically a brand on a product created by an individual or they’re using it in a different way that it won’t effect the original defintion of a word. For example, Kit Kat is a trademark with Hershey as it’s a popular chocolate candy. However, Google was able to use Kit Kat as a trademark as well because for them it had a secondary meaning not related to chocolate candy when they decided to name their OS (operating system) after it. It’s probably a given that they got permission to do so from Hershey as well.
**EDIT** Thanks to a comment made by fellow blogger Shalini I felt I should add to this post. She asked if words in the dictionary can be trademarked. The short answer is yes but again it goes back to how the word is being used. The best example is the world “apple”. In the dictionary, an apple is a round red fruit…. etc. However, the company that mass produces your Iphones has trademarked the word Apple (with a capital) and this is allowed because it does not infringe upon the original meaning of the word. ****
The cost of a trademark usually varies by state and can be anywhere between $100-$200 dollars. If your application to register a trademark gets approved then you are able to use your trademark in that state and sue anyone who uses it without express permission. Now if you want your trademark to be national, it’ll cost a bit more; up to $400 and you have to renew it every ten years for it to be valid. Even if you have a registered trademark, depending on the changing of the seasons, i.e. culture and society changes, if your trademark becomes something that is a commonly used saying or reference, it is possible for a party to fight you on said trademark on the grounds that it’s more generic now than it was before. It all depends really.
There are two main symbols used to indicate a trademark:
- ™ means that a trademark has been filed but it’s not registered yet. An application has been filed or will be filed.
- ® means that a trademark application has been filed and accepted and you received a certificate of registration.
There’s also the © but that has to do with copyright and is something I can get into in a different post if you all are interested.
Anyway, here are some examples of common words that are currently trademarked that we use all the time and the generic terms a different party has to use if they produce the same product:
- BandAid is registered by Johnson & Johnson Company. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar is self-adhesive bandage
- Bubble Wrap is registered by Sealed Air Corporation. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar is packing material
- Crock-Pot is registered by Sun-Beam Products. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar is slow cooker
- Google is registered by Google, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe something similar (even though we say Google it all the time) is search engine.
- As an aside here, if you ever watch a movie and see them using a search engine that looks like YouTube or Google but is named something else, this is why.
- Super Hero (two words) is registered by DC Comics Partnership and Marvel Characters, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe a hero not in these worlds is superhero (one word)
- As you can see, two companies can register the same word but because the characters are in two different universes that will never overlap, it’s allowed.
- Popsicle is registered by Conopco, Inc. The generic phrase you can use to describe a similar frozen treat is ice pop
So these are just a few examples. I could go on cause there are a ton and it can even get into commonly used conversational phrases as well but maybe I will save that for another post. I hope you all enjoyed this post and feel free to ask questions or share trademark examples you know of in the comments below.