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January 21, 2008

Trademarking a Product Name can be Challenging

cyberlaw1.gifA lawyer’s attempt to trademark the term “CyberLaw” has been met with incessant laughter across the Internet with Eric Goldman suggesting that this is “the latest would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-so-sad attempt to assert trademark rights on a common Internet term.”

A word in common usage cannot be trademarked unless it can be proven that customers associate the word with only your company, and the word “cyberlaw” has been around for well, over a decade, and associated with, well, “cyberlaw,” for far too long for that to happen.

Eric Menhart, a “recognized leader” in the field of intellectual property and the mastermind behind this application has gone on the defensive, proclaiming to the world that he has only applied to trademark the term for one class of protection: “services rendered by lawyers to individuals, groups of individuals, organizations and enterprises.”

He would have had a better chance trademarking the term for a video game. We all use the word in this sense (as in “hiring a lawyer who practices cyberlaw can be quite expensive.”)

It does not seem likely that he will be granted the trademark, not least because he will be unable to prove that this commonly used word already has a deep association with his company naming.

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Posted by William Lozito at January 21, 2008 7:31 AM
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