Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC

Popular terms overwhelmingly registered as trademarks

Many Connecticut business owners and entrepreneurs may be considering filing for a trademark for their own products and services. However, they could run into more difficulty than expected, as a new study has found that 81 percent of the most common 1,000 words in the English language are registered as single-word trademarks. The study's authors warned of the potential of future problems with the creation of brand names.

Published in the Harvard Law Review, the study looked at the 6.7 million applications for trademarks filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office between 1985 and 2016, as well as the 300,000 marks that were already registered prior to that period. When the scope of words is expanded, the percentage claimed as trademarks drops; for example, 62 percent of the 10,000 most common words are registered and 23.5 percent of the 86,408 most frequently used words. The researchers also noted that among the most common words that are not registered are many negative terms that would be unwanted by brands.

Surnames are also frequently trademarked, with 22,125 surnames matching a single-word trademark. Those names embrace 55.4 percent of the entire country's population. The writers noted that this prevalence of existing marks could cause a problem for new business and brands in the future. Therefore, they suggested potential solutions to help ease trademark congestion, including raising fees for maintenance and renewal as well as enforcing the use of the marks in order to maintain them. They also suggested potentially eliminating the required search to clear any possible similarities with existing registered trademarks.

People who are considering registering trademarks to represent their brand or business can consult with an intellectual property lawyer. An attorney may be able to undertake th necessary research to determine whether a trademark is available as well as carrying out the application process and providing important advice to innovative businesses with creative intellectual property.

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