Sorry about that – I could not resist. Colt lost big time recently with a dispute about its M4 rifle. Colt thought the M4 designation let people know that the gun was made by Colt. When Colt found another company [Bushmaster Firearms, Inc] saying the M4 was a type of rifle, and not a trademark for a type of gun made by Colt, Colt sued. Colt lost. Colt really lost. Not only did Bushmaster not have to stop using the term M4 to refer to its type of gun, Colt also has the M4 mark declared generic.
“Bushmaster presented evidence that the relevant consuming public continues to associate M4 with the military designation for a carbine that has certain characteristics.” When this happens, the trademark is basically dead. Trademarks don’t designate types of products. Generic terms designate types of products. Trademarks designate the sources of products/services. Once the trademark does designate a type of product it stops being a trademark and the whole industry can use that trademark.
The more members of the public see a term used by competitors in the field, the less likely they will be to identify the term with one particular producer. Is your mark getting caught in a generic trap? How do you use it? How do others use it?
James Lindon, Ph.D. Patent Attorney
Lindon & Lindon, LLC
Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Pharmacy Law, Litigation
[this is not legal advice - provided for discussion only]
Intellectual Property for the Individual and Small Business: Identify, Protect, Enforce, Defend.
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."