The Biggest Pop Culture Trademark Blunders
A trademark is a recognizable brand name and can be a symbol, name, word, logo or device. It distinguishes one seller or brand from another and is especially important for famous brands. The trademark may be owned by an individual, business, corporation or any other legal entity. It helps distinguish a particular brand from its competitors and protects the brand against trademark infringement. It also increases the demand for the particular brand or service.
Applying for a Trademark
The trademark application has to be made by the legal entity interested in applying for the trademark. Preliminary refusal is the refusal of the initial trademark application by the trademark examiner. Trademark infringement takes place when one entity uses a trademark which is very similar to the trademark owned by some other firm or individual. The trademark is in the public domain, when the intellectual property rights have expired, forfeited, are inapplicable and have been returned to the public.
As per the records of the United states Patent and Trademark office, more than 300,000 new applications for trademarks were received in 2011, but more than 139,000 trademarks expired in 2012. There are more than 1,800,000 active registered trademarks as of 2012.
Arbitary and fanciful trademarks have the maximum strength under US patent law. Suggestive trademarks have medium protection, descriptive trademarks have weak protection, and generic trademarks have no protection. TM is used for unregistered trademarks for brands or goods, SM for unregistered service and the R is used for registered trademarks.
The first application for trademark was made in 1870 by J.J Turner & Co for a Peruvian guano brand and first trademark was also registered in 1870 by a paint company Averill Chemical Company for their logo , design and word. Trademarks were used for media merchandising from 1923 with the trademark for Tarzan obtained by Edgar Rice Burroughs . Many large and famous brands have failed to secure trademarks for their applications.
Many TV stars of TV shows like the cast of have encountered problems when they have tried to trademark their nicknames as some other firms have already registered similar trademarks. Beyonce and Jay-z have been tried to trademark their baby’s name for a line of clothing accessories and a similar trademark was already owned by a wedding planning company. Donald Trump tried to trademark the term “You’re Fired” but was not successful, while Paris Hilton owns the term “That’s Hot”
Disney has failed to trademark the term “Seal Team 6” (which was involved in the assassination of Osama bin Laden) and “The day of the dead” or “Dia de los Muertos” celebrated by millions in Mexico. The attempt to trademark a day was met by protests on various social networking websites. Harley Davidson tried to trademark the sound of their motorcycle, but failed to as the sound was considered to be too generic.