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November 6, 2006

Trademarks and Superstitions

trademark has me thinking about trademarks. Moreover, I have noticed that for some reason a number of bloggers are posting about the difficulties and ambiguities around registering trademarks and what they actually are. Seth's post refers to , a subject I have written about before.

He also has an interesting concept: to register a trademark, you have to follow a few "superstitions." You have to first let everyone know that the name you have chosen is a trademark, through a variety of means that may or my not work. He also clarifies what "(tm)" means after a word — you can do that to almost any mark you deem to be your trademark (once per page) — and when you get around to registering it, you add a ® after the name instead of a ™.

You never really need to use a (c) — Godin says that’s "just dumb".

Enter Bill Binnig at Jaduka, who has discovered that registering a trademark is pretty easy to do yourself — and I agree to some extent.

You just go to the website and follow the instructions. The USPTO offers a wealth of information indeed and if things go seamlessly you can get your ® with little stress. It is when there are competing trademarks, or the trademarks are under contention, or you are not even sure if you need to trademark a name that it helps to get a specialist involved.

You also have to think about other things, of course, such as registering a domain name, which can be just as or even more difficult. The Private Intellectual also has a wonderful post up today about "" that I urge do-it-yourselfers to read before registering.

For instance, you may think you have a perfect right to trademark your name, just as when thought they could trademark "T-", and discover, as T-Mobile did, that letters and dashes are in the public domain, thank you very much. Some common words, like "pod", are also hard to trademark — right, Apple?

Sometimes trademarking products can be a step backward for the person seeking the trademark, as is possibly the case with Ethiopia's efforts to trademark the names of certain coffee beans.

And sometimes, as is the case with the trademark, you may think you have a valuable trademarked brand name… and be unable to sell it.

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Posted by William Lozito at November 6, 2006 11:50 AM
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It is ironic that you chose November 6 (the same day we lost control of Crazy Eddie in a hostile takeover) for your post about the value of trademarks - specifically "Crazy Eddie."

A trade mark is only as good as the public's perception of the integrity behind it. The Crazy Eddie name is and probably always will be associated with one of the greatest securities frauds in corporate history.

For the current owner of the trade mark it is like trying to sell the "Enron" trade mark to an energy company.


Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and ex-felon)

I vividly recall the Crazy Eddie commercials. An interesting slant--must say I found it surprising that they even tried to sell the tm but maybe Eddie could be resurrected? He did get in trouble, yes, but then again, let's face it..he's crazy.

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