Brand names need protection and that’s where trademarks come in. How does it all work though? Jimmy Rhoades wanted to know more so he visited the U.S. Patent and Trademark office's website and found some big surprises.
1. Words & Phrases
Geek culture has a bunch of trademarked words. “Zombie" is copyrighted by Marvel, "Dungeon Master" is copyrighted by Dungeons & Dragons publisher TSR and "00" in front of any number is owned by the rights holders of Bond, James Bond. String words together and you might wind up with a trademarked catchphrase as well. If you see any of these on a coffee mug or t-shirt, someone either paid or is getting sued.
Hasbro claims the scent of Play-Doh is proprietary and unlike catchphrases, where the words are right there, companies have to include a verbal description of the scent they want to protect. In its trademark application, Hasbro sounds like a Play-Doh sommelier.
"A unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough."
Pop culture is riddled with trademarked sounds like AOL’s "You've got mail." Again, the fun here is in the legalized verbal descriptions, which sometimes are surprisingly concise, like, "The mark consists of the spoken word 'D'oh."
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