History UsefulNotes / Trademark

17th Jan '17 6:43:27 PM Tdarcos
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Also, if you register a domain name and someone else claims they are entitled to that name, the domain dispute process looks to see if either party has a trademark or service mark registered at the national level of some country, so state-level registrations don't count. Due to the much faster processes involved, some companies that don't even operate there are registering marks in the country of Tunisia.



Also, if a trademark does not represent a distinct, specific owner to people who use the product or service it identifies (as opposed to the trademark or service mark being the "generic" term used to describe the product), the trademark can be declared "generic" by a court and then anyone can use it. This is why anyone can call acetysalicitic acid "aspirin" in the United States, it's become the generic term for that product. (Aspirin is still a trademark of Bayer in the United Kingdom, however.) This is why Johnson & Johnson (creators of Band-Aid bandages) and Xerox tried to discourage the public from using their trademarks as generic terms for the type of product[[note]]or the verb form of the product's function, in the case of Xerox[[/note]]--it weakened the respective trademarks.

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Also, if a trademark does not represent a distinct, specific owner to people who use the product or service it identifies (as opposed to the trademark or service mark being the "generic" term used to describe the product), the trademark can be declared "generic" by a court and then anyone can use it. This is why anyone can call acetysalicitic acid "aspirin" in the United States, it's become the generic term for that product. (Aspirin is still a trademark of Bayer in the United Kingdom, however.) This is why Johnson & Johnson (creators of [[StuckOnBandaidBrand Band-Aid bandages) bandages]]) and Xerox tried to discourage the public from using their trademarks as generic terms for the type of product[[note]]or the verb form of the product's function, in the case of Xerox[[/note]]--it weakened the respective trademarks.



But you have to be careful, especially in advertisements. Taco Bell got into a public relations disaster after - without asking him first - they ran ads suggesting rap music performer 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent, or 99 Cent, and order one of their menu items at that price, and they'd donate $10,000 to the charity of his choice. He sued them, and it's probably likely the settlement Taco Bell agreed to was considerably more than $10,000, and probably went to his pockets directly.

Now, however, the movie "Film/InsideMan" has a kid playing a violent video game, explaining how he likes it. 'It's like my man 50 Cent says, "Get rich or die tryin'"' This use is merely conversational, does not imply Mr. Jackson approved of the use of his trademark - yes, he has actually registered "50 Cent" as a trademark - and thus the use in the movie is legal as fair use even without his permission.



But not always. For a disparagement case to be successful, what's said must be untrue ''and'' people would have to believe the lie. If I pick on Coke again and say in my blog that it tastes like piss because they use swamp water direct from the planet Mars, that's clearly hyperbole because no one could seriously believe it's possible to import anything from another planet. But if someone says something provably wrong that could be believed and it makes that product look bad, there is a good chance the manufacturer can go after the speaker or publisher for disparagement.

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But not always. For a disparagement case to be successful, what's said must be untrue ''and'' people would have to believe the lie. If I pick on Coke again and say in my blog that it tastes like piss because they use swamp water direct from the planet Mars, that's clearly hyperbole because no one could seriously believe it's possible to import anything from another planet. But if someone says something provably wrong that could be believed and it makes that product look bad, there is a good chance the manufacturer can go after the speaker or publisher for disparagement.
disparagement. (This is also why it's legal to give these fictitious examples about Coca-Cola in this article because it's clear that I am identifying them as false and am not intending that anyone believe them.)
10th Jan '17 11:58:41 PM Tdarcos
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Then there's the problem where a trademark or servicemark is so successful that people use the mark interchangeably with the non-branded name. When a mark becomes generic, anyone can use it, and it is no longer capitalized except when used as the first word of a sentence. Note that a mark can be generic in one use and a strong trademark or service mark in another. It's perfectly legal to sell solid fuel under the name "coke" (a type of processed coal) without getting permission from anyone, but unless you're selling "The Real Thing" you'd better not try to sell any beverage under the name "Coke" unless it's authorized by the Coca-Cola Company of UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}}. The word "peanuts" (not capitalized) refers to nuts that grow underground, but the word "ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}" (capitalized) refers to a comic strip by Charles Schulz as well as a series of books and TV specials.

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Then there's the problem where a trademark or servicemark is so successful that people use the mark interchangeably with the non-branded name. When a mark becomes generic, anyone can use it, and it is no longer capitalized except when used as the first word of a sentence. Note that a mark can be generic in one use and a strong trademark or service mark in another. It's perfectly legal to sell solid fuel under the name "coke" (a type of processed coal) without getting permission from anyone, but unless you're selling "The Real Thing" you'd better not try to sell any beverage under the name "Coke" unless it's authorized by the Coca-Cola Company of UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}}. The word "peanuts" (not capitalized) refers to nuts that grow underground, underground [[note]] technically peanuts are legumes - a class of pea - rather than actual nuts [[/note]], but the word "ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}" (capitalized) refers to a comic strip by Charles Schulz as well as a series of books and TV specials.
10th Jan '17 11:45:26 PM Tdarcos
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But even then, the restriction is only with respect to goods or services using a protected name or symbol; if you're making a movie involving a UN peacekeeping agency, you can put UN uniforms on the actors and use the UN flag or logo on their vehicles, or film a scene where International Red Cross workers are involved because of the First Amendment. As long as you don't try to include the protected symbols or names in the advertising for the movie, it's unlikely a court would prevent you from doing so unless you tried to claim you had approval of the organization. Although if the usage puts them in a bad light, they may threaten litigation. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority made noises that they were going to take legal action against Film/DieHard 2 because of its frequent mention of "Dulles Airport," which it operates, but nothing happened, someone probably realized they have no grounds to sue and would simply provide lots more publicity, vis-a-vis the StreisandEffect.

to:

But even then, the restriction is only with respect to goods or services using a protected name or symbol; if you're making a movie involving a UN peacekeeping agency, you can put UN uniforms on the actors and use the UN flag or logo on their vehicles, or film a scene where International Red Cross workers are involved because of the First Amendment. As long as you don't try to include the protected symbols or names in the advertising for the movie, it's unlikely a court would prevent you from doing so unless you tried to claim you had approval of the organization. Although if the usage puts them in a bad light, they may threaten litigation. (See below about "disparagement.") The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority made noises that they were going to take legal action against Film/DieHard 2 because of its frequent mention of "Dulles Airport," which it operates, but nothing happened, someone probably realized they have no grounds to sue and would simply provide lots more publicity, vis-a-vis the StreisandEffect.
10th Jan '17 11:40:15 PM Tdarcos
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Then there is the concept of FairUse, (which while normally relevant to copyright, also applies to use of other people's trademarks), where someone can use someone else's trademark whether its owner likes it or not. For example, let's say I run a blog and I post openly that I happen to hate Coca-Cola because I think it tastes bad, and I happen to like Dr. Pepper. They can't successfully sue me because it's a legitimate commentary. (To be fair, I will note that my brother, on the other hand, likes Coke and hates Dr. Pepper.) This use of their trademarks is fair use because I am giving a comparison of products. Now, if I sold a soft drink called "Swill", and I ran a survey, I could legally say that "86% of customers preferred Swill over Mountain. Dew" (as long as it was true). (This was the entire premise of the UsefulNotes/PepsiChallenge, where Pepsi showed that people preferred it over Coke, and started the Cola Wars of the 1980s.)

When a mark becomes generic, anyone can use it, and it is no longer capitalized except when used as the first word of a sentence. Note that a mark can be generic in one use and a strong trademark or service mark in another. It's perfectly legal to sell solid fuel under the name "coke" (a type of processed coal) without getting permission from anyone, but unless you're selling "The Real Thing" you'd better not try to sell any beverage under the name "Coke" unless it's authorized by the Coca-Cola Company of UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}}. The word "peanuts" (not capitalized) refers to nuts that grow underground, but the word "ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}" (capitalized) refers to a comic strip by Charles Schulz as well as a series of books and TV specials.

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Then there is the concept of FairUse, (which while normally relevant to copyright, also applies to use of other people's trademarks), where someone can use someone else's trademark whether its owner likes it or not. For example, let's say I run a blog and I post openly that I happen to hate Coca-Cola because I think it tastes bad, and I happen to like Dr. Pepper. They can't successfully sue me because it's a legitimate commentary. (To be fair, I will note that my brother, on the other hand, likes Coke and hates Dr. Pepper.) This use of their trademarks is fair use because I am giving a comparison of products. Besides that, it's pure opinion; there is no objective way to prove if a soft drink tastes good or bad. Now, if I sold a soft drink called "Swill", and I ran a survey, I could legally say that "86% of customers preferred Swill over Mountain. Dew" (as long as it was true). (This was the entire premise of the UsefulNotes/PepsiChallenge, where Pepsi showed that people preferred it over Coke, and started the Cola Wars of the 1980s.)

However, there is the issue of "disparagement," which means you claim something about a company, product, or service which makes it look bad. If it's pure opinion, such as my example from above how I dislike the taste of Coke, there's nothing they can do about it. If the statement is true, they also can't do anything (on YouTube you can find the video of a New York City Kentucky Fried Chicken - Taco Bell restaurant at 6th Avenue and 4th Street in Greenwich Village where rats were running rampant.) But, if the statement is factual, ''and'' false, then that is actionable. To pick on the Coca-Cola Company again, let's say I do a blog, where not only do I say their flagship product tastes like piss, I say it's because they use actual sewer water in the product. Then, since that's clearly untrue, then they can sue, demand a retraction, an apology, and other damages.

This was the case when some Amway dealers were spreading false rumors that an executive of Proctor & Gamble ("P&G", as they've been known for over a hundred years, who makes products that compete with some of Amway's offerings) was a practicing satanist who had gone on TV to admit this (which he hadn't) and that P&G's "man in the moon" logo, that they had used for decades was a satanic symbol (it wasn't). The company successfully sued some of these people, but the damage was so bad P&G had to drop their old logo and create a new one. In this case, P&G was able to sue over these false rumors.

But not always. For a disparagement case to be successful, what's said must be untrue ''and'' people would have to believe the lie. If I pick on Coke again and say in my blog that it tastes like piss because they use swamp water direct from the planet Mars, that's clearly hyperbole because no one could seriously believe it's possible to import anything from another planet. But if someone says something provably wrong that could be believed and it makes that product look bad, there is a good chance the manufacturer can go after the speaker or publisher for disparagement.

Then there's the problem where a trademark or servicemark is so successful that people use the mark interchangeably with the non-branded name.
When a mark becomes generic, anyone can use it, and it is no longer capitalized except when used as the first word of a sentence. Note that a mark can be generic in one use and a strong trademark or service mark in another. It's perfectly legal to sell solid fuel under the name "coke" (a type of processed coal) without getting permission from anyone, but unless you're selling "The Real Thing" you'd better not try to sell any beverage under the name "Coke" unless it's authorized by the Coca-Cola Company of UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}}. The word "peanuts" (not capitalized) refers to nuts that grow underground, but the word "ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}" (capitalized) refers to a comic strip by Charles Schulz as well as a series of books and TV specials.
10th Jan '17 10:37:10 PM Tdarcos
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You might be asking why [[=TV Tropes=]] has an article about trademarks. Well, so that you can understand what they are; what they aren't; how someone else (other than the mark's owner) is allowed to use them in a story; when they can't (or their lawyer thinks they can't) use it; under what circumstances someone using them as part of a media franchise can get a trademark; and when they can't. This will also let you understand ''why'' sometimes they use an obvious fake name in place of an (even more obvious) brand name.

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You might be asking why [[=TV Tropes=]] [=TV Tropes=] has an article about trademarks.trademarks (and servicemarks). Well, so that you can understand what they are; what they aren't; how someone else (other than the mark's owner) is allowed to use them in a story; when they can't (or their lawyer thinks they can't) use it; under what circumstances someone using them as part of a media franchise can get a trademark; and when they can't. This will also let you understand ''why'' sometimes they use an obvious fake name in place of an (even more obvious) brand name.
10th Jan '17 10:35:54 PM Tdarcos
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Added DiffLines:

You might be asking why [[=TV Tropes=]] has an article about trademarks. Well, so that you can understand what they are; what they aren't; how someone else (other than the mark's owner) is allowed to use them in a story; when they can't (or their lawyer thinks they can't) use it; under what circumstances someone using them as part of a media franchise can get a trademark; and when they can't. This will also let you understand ''why'' sometimes they use an obvious fake name in place of an (even more obvious) brand name.
24th May '16 7:26:15 PM BigBertha
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As a result of treaties between countries, there are marks of international organizations that can't be used without their permission (unless you were using the mark for something before the mark was granted treaty status). The word "Olympic" or the 5 interlocking rings; the UsefulNotes/UnitedNations flag or logo; UsefulNotes/TheRedCross (Johnson & Johnson can still use the Red Cross for cotton in the United States because they were using it more than 100 years ago before the symbol was protected), Red Crescent (some Muslim countries) or Red Crystal. (The Red Crystal got created because the Arab countries wouldn't put up with the use of a red Star of David as the Israeli Red Cross used, so they picked something less offensive.)

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As a result of treaties between countries, there are marks of international organizations that can't be used without their permission (unless you were using the mark for something before the mark was granted treaty status). The word "Olympic" or the 5 interlocking rings; the UsefulNotes/UnitedNations flag or logo; UsefulNotes/TheRedCross (Johnson & Johnson [[GrandfatherClause can still use the Red Cross for cotton in the United States because they were using it more than 100 years ago before the symbol was protected), protected]]), Red Crescent (some Muslim countries) or Red Crystal. (The Red Crystal got created because the Arab countries wouldn't put up with the use of a red Star of David as the Israeli Red Cross used, so they picked something less offensive.)
15th May '16 1:48:02 PM erforce
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There's another issue about trademarks, generally for titles of works of art like books, films, songs, you can't register the title as a trademark unless the work is extremely popular or has a very long history of use. ''Literature/HarryPotter'' or ''LeftBehind'' as the title of a series of works could be registered, but probably not the titles of the individual books in the series. This can cause problems because there are two completely unrelated movies named ''Film/{{Crash}}'', one about people that set up car crashes as erotica, and another that won an Academy Award. But, if you have a particular work and someone else releases something under the same or a very similar name you ''may'' be able to stop them. But there are exceptions, especially for parody. This is why porn movies usually do puns that are similar to mainstream movies ("Juranal Park" for ''JurassicPark'', "Saturday Night Beaver" for ''Film/SaturdayNightFever'' and "Schindler's Fist" for ''SchindlersList'') as it can be considered parody, which comes (no pun intended) under Fair Use, below. There are exceptions; there is both a clean film called "What's Love Got To Do With It" and a porno film of the same name. How come the porno is able to have the same name? They used it first.

to:

There's another issue about trademarks, generally for titles of works of art like books, films, songs, you can't register the title as a trademark unless the work is extremely popular or has a very long history of use. ''Literature/HarryPotter'' or ''LeftBehind'' as the title of a series of works could be registered, but probably not the titles of the individual books in the series. This can cause problems because there are two completely unrelated movies named ''Film/{{Crash}}'', one about people that set up car crashes as erotica, and another that won an Academy Award. But, if you have a particular work and someone else releases something under the same or a very similar name you ''may'' be able to stop them. But there are exceptions, especially for parody. This is why porn movies usually do puns that are similar to mainstream movies ("Juranal Park" for ''JurassicPark'', "Saturday Night Beaver" for ''Film/SaturdayNightFever'' and "Schindler's Fist" for ''SchindlersList'') ''Film/SchindlersList'') as it can be considered parody, which comes (no pun intended) under Fair Use, below. There are exceptions; there is both a clean film called "What's Love Got To Do With It" and a porno film of the same name. How come the porno is able to have the same name? They used it first.
28th Apr '16 7:00:20 AM Tdarcos
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Trademarks encompass two types of identifiers; a "trademark" is an identifier applied to some physical thing (a "good"). A "service mark" (or "servicemark") is an identifier applied to some practice (a "service") that is made available to the public but doesn't actually provide some physical thing. For example, your house has electricity for power and may have natural gas or oil for heating. The brand the electric company uses (PEPCO is the electric company for Washington, D.C.) is a service mark because you don't have any actual goods (you can't store electricity). However, the brand of oil or gas is a product you do receive, a physical good (which you could store), and is a trade mark. Now, if you are supplied utilities by a company that provides both gas and electric (the Pacific Gas & Electric Company of San Francisco) then their name can be both a trademark ''and'' a service mark. The term "wordmark" is also seen - this indicates a specific logo that consists of the word written in a specific font, color and spacing rather than a contrived device.

to:

Trademarks encompass two types of identifiers; a "trademark" is an identifier applied to some physical thing (a "good"). A "service mark" (or "servicemark") is an identifier applied to some practice (a "service") that is made available to the public but doesn't actually provide some physical thing. For example, your house has electricity for power and may have natural gas or oil for heating. The brand the electric company uses (PEPCO is the electric company for Washington, D.C.) is a service mark because you don't have any actual goods (you can't store electricity). However, the brand of oil or gas is a product you do receive, a physical good (which you could store), and is a trade mark. If you receive gas from a particular company (Wisconsin Gas Company) that does not use a separate name for their gas, then the company's name can be a trademark. If you received oil from a delivery company, that can be a servicemark as well as a separate trademark on the oil by the company that refined it. Now, if you are supplied utilities by a company that provides both gas and electric (the Pacific Gas & Electric Company of San Francisco) then their name can be both a trademark ''and'' a service mark. The term "wordmark" is also seen - this indicates a specific logo that consists of the word written in a specific font, color and spacing rather than a contrived device.
28th Apr '16 6:48:17 AM Tdarcos
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But even then, the restriction is only with respect to goods or services using a protected name or symbol; if you're making a movie involving a UN peacekeeping agency, you can put UN uniforms on the actors and use the UN flag or logo on their vehicles, or film a scene where International Red Cross workers are involved because of the First Amendment. As long as you don't try to include the protected symbols or names in the advertising for the movie, it's unlikely a court would prevent you from doing so unless you tried to claim you had approval of the organization. Although if the usage puts them in a bad light, they may threaten litigation. The Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority made noises that they were going to take action against Film/DieHard 2 because of its frequent mention of "Dulles Airport," which it operates, but nothing happened, someone probably realized they have no grounds to sue and would simply provide lots more publicity, vis-a-vis the StreisandEffect.

to:

But even then, the restriction is only with respect to goods or services using a protected name or symbol; if you're making a movie involving a UN peacekeeping agency, you can put UN uniforms on the actors and use the UN flag or logo on their vehicles, or film a scene where International Red Cross workers are involved because of the First Amendment. As long as you don't try to include the protected symbols or names in the advertising for the movie, it's unlikely a court would prevent you from doing so unless you tried to claim you had approval of the organization. Although if the usage puts them in a bad light, they may threaten litigation. The Washington Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority made noises that they were going to take legal action against Film/DieHard 2 because of its frequent mention of "Dulles Airport," which it operates, but nothing happened, someone probably realized they have no grounds to sue and would simply provide lots more publicity, vis-a-vis the StreisandEffect.
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