Overview of Trademark Use in Marketing

Talcott J. Franklin
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

The dictionary is filled with words that formerly were valuable and popular brands. Brands so powerful that they became “household words”: aspirin, brassier, cellophane, cube steak, dry ice, escalator, gold card, gramophone, ice beer, kerosene, lanolin, light beer, linoleum, mimeograph, nylon, pilates, raisin bran, shredded wheat, space shuttle, super glue, thermos, trampoline, yo-yo, and zipper.

Each of these brands received the “death penalty” from the courts: a ruling that the brand owner no longer had the exclusive right to use the brand.

Almost invariably, the owner of each of these brands did much to hasten its demise. They failed to follow the rules of trademark use. Companies such as AOL, Bayer, Duncan, DuPont, and King-Seeley all lost valuable brands as a result.