Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Super Bowl -or- The Big Game?

Some ads encourage you to use their products as you watch the Super Bowl. Others think you’d like their stuff as you enjoy The Big Game. There seem to be more ads for The Big Game or "on game day" than for the Super Bowl.

You have to be licensed to use those two sacred words. They are hot property, trademarked and used only when coin of the realm changes hand. NFL Enterprises prefers all others use wording such as "The Big Game" or the teams’ cities (not their trademarked names, please). Showing it in a public place? One set, 55” screen maximum.

In writers’ magazines, you will generally find an ad placed by Xerox. It doesn’t say much, just something like, "There are two r’s in Xerox. One in the word and one in the circle after it, indicating that Xerox is a registered trademark." The company is working like crazy to protect its word from falling into the public domain. Although the Merriam brothers bought Noah Webster’s dictionary and rights, somehow his name fell into the public domain and anybody can publish a "Webster’s" dictionary. There remains, however, only one Merriam-Webster edition.

Don’t mess with the Styrofoam people. My newspaper ran an article and used that word without capitalizing it. They received a nice letter from Dow Chemical requesting (a) capitalize it or (b) use "foam" instead. Their insulation is colored blue and that is also a trademark; yes, you can protect a color for a specific product, although it appears Sanka has lost the battle with their "orange = decaf" tint.

1 Comments:

Anonymous HelenWheels said...

It's funny how many trademarked words are now synonymous with the products they represent. In the flu season, many will ask for a tissue to cover that sneeze, but just as many will ask for a Kleenex®. In the summer, do you enjoy a "quiescently frozen dessert treat" or just a Popsicle® of whatever brand? To cover a cut, do you use an adhesive bandage, or just a Band-Aid®? Gelatin dessert or just Jell-O®? And more recently, do you use a search engine, or do you just Google™ it? Products like these have become a victim of their own successes when the name starts being used generically - a process called "genericide." Among others, Thermos has lost that particular battle, and now few people know what a vacuum flask is, but you can get a thermos by many different manufacturers.

It'll probably be a long, long time, though, before we hear people talking about the "Super Bowl of Tennis" or anything like that.

February 07, 2007 9:54 AM  

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