The top 5 strangest trademark applications

Celebrities and big corporates have shown us that you can trademark pretty much anything as long as it isn’t a generic or a descriptive name. Here are some of the weirdest trademark applications to date.

1)     Paris Hilton “That’s Hot”
In 2007 Paris Hilton’s trademark application for her well known  catchphrase “That’s Hot” was approved by the USPTO.  She won a case against Hallmark for trademark infringement in 2009. The card company had used her trademarked phrase unaware that they were committing trademark infringement. Who would have known that it was already owned?

2)     Twitter “Tweet”
The social media giant tried to trademark the word “tweet” in 2011 but the term had already been used in the trademark “"Let Your Ad Meet Tweets" approved in 2008 and owned by Twittad, an American advertising company . Although the USPTO had twice declined applications from Twitter for the word, after entering discussions with the advertising company, Twitter agreed to drop their lawsuit against them in return for the “Tweet” trademark. Twitter registered their trademark in 2011.

3)     Harley Davidson “the sound of its engine”
It is a common belief that a trademark can only be a word or a logo or a combination of the two, However, it is also possible to register colours, sounds and three-dimensional shapes. In 1994 in order to differentiate their brand from others in the marketplace Harley Davidson decided to file a trademark for the sound of its engine. In this way a customer can fully distinguish their brand from their competitors at every level.

4) Wal-Mart - the Smiley Face
Although the American supermarket chain has been using the smiley face logo since the 1960s, they only tried to register a trademark for it in 2006. A man named Franklin Loufrani claimed to have invented it and so Wal-Mart felt that they needed to protect their established logo.  However, due to the fact that the smiley face had become generic their application was unsuccessful and they have now ceased to use it.

5) Rachel Zoe- “Bananas”
Who knew that a fruit name could be trademarked? In 2009 the celebrity stylist successfully acquired a trademark for the word “bananas”, a word that she regularly uses on her reality tv show. In the same year she sent her first cease-and-desist letter to Christopher SauvĂ©, an artist who had unknowingly designed a t-shirt using her trademarked word.

A generic trademark name or image will never be approved by a trademark authority unless the trademark in question is not related to the goods or services that you are planning to use it for. In this case Wal-mart’s smiley face logo was declined because they wanted to use it as a smiley face but Rachel Zoe’s trademark was approved because she was using the word as an adjective and was not alluding to the tropical fruit.  Any company wanting to trademark their brand should only consider using an arbitrary ,fanciful or suggestive mark as they provide a greater level of protection.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website,
Our unique database of trademarks for sale or license could save you time and help protect your brand.


Post a Comment