June 14, 2007
Product Names Backwards and Forwards
A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence which reads the same backwards and forwards. Most English speakers are familiar with the palindromes "Madam, I'm Adam" and "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama."
Wikipedia has an interesting list of palindromic place-names, but most of those names seem to be natural palindromes, not names which were made up or chosen because you could read them in either direction.
One examining attorney in a trademark application case argued that palindromes make stronger marks, and the fact that two similar names were both palindromes increased the likelihood of confusion between them, but John L. Welch of the TTAB Blog isn't buying it.
The two names in question, Niccin and Nicocin, are indeed both palindromes, but, as with anagrams, you have to be looking for a palindrome in order to notice it.
Nicocin isn't the only palindrome in the trademark register. There's the Rotavator, the Honda Civic, the Intel Viiv, and the drug Xanax, among others.
But if palindromes really made such great brand names, you'd expect to find more of them, particularly among coined names.
Natural palindromes are fairly rare in English; if they were more common, they'd be less interesting.
The name "Palindrome," on the other hand, seems to be quite popular. Fourteen companies have applied to trademark the term "Palindrome," but the only currently registered Palindrome marks are for clothing and for computer consulting.
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