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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Experts in Product Names Consider Trademark Strength and Consumer Effect

  Kate Middleton and Prince William’s recent announcement that they are expecting a baby has the media buzzing and people speculating as to possible baby names.  While the royal heir’s name is tabloid fodder, the business world has always appreciated the importance of picking the right name for their products and services.

Some of the more popular naming blunders include:

  • Chevy Nova:  the American auto manufacturer didn’t realize that in Spanish, “nova” translates literally into “don’t go;”
  • Mist Stick:  although Clairol introduced their Mist Stick curling iron in the States, they didn’t know why sales didn’t fare well in Germany …until they learned that “mist” is German slang for “manure;”
  • Roots:  Canadian clothing company Roots initially thought the popularity of their apparel in Australia had to do with support for Team Canada’s official uniforms during the Sydney Olympics, until it was discovered that “root” is an Australian slang for “sex,” and
  • Coolio:  the rap artist surely intended for his name to be a derivation of the word “cool,” but Spanish teachers have warned their students not to use the word in Latin America

Choosing the right name for a product or service that will be marketed across cultures and languages can prove to be tricky.  Nomenclature firms are experts in naming products.  They consumer researchers, trademark analysts, and linguists.  Nomenclature firms consider a name’s appeal, marketability, and international meanings.

A high profile nomenclature firm is Lexicon.  They are came up with the names Swiffer, Febreeze, Dasani, and OnStar, among many others.

A strong trademark is one where the word is fanciful; that is, it has no other meaning than to identify the product or service.  “Pentium” is such a word; its only definition is to identify a computer processor.  Another strong trademark is a word that is arbitrary, or that its ordinary meaning has nothing to do with the product.  For example, “Apple” usually refers to fruit, but in the trademark sense, it identifies computers.

David Placek, Founder and President of Lexicon says that a name with consumer appeal also has these trademark principles in mind.  His advice for coming up with the next great name:  “Get attention, generate interest, and for God’s sake say something new.”

Do you have a business name that gets attention?  A logo that generates interest?  A slogan that says something new?  Find out whether your trademark should be registered, and protect your legal rights.

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