Mining for trademarks: how multilingual portmanteaux and the F-word could unlock untapped markets

The surge in US trademark registrations over the past 12 months has been enlightening for market analysts and trend analysers everywhere. Although many of these new trademark applications are due to the forced stay-at-home restlessness caused by covid-19, most have been filed by applicants in China. While we will not go into why we have seen a wave of applications from China, it does lend itself to reviewing the actual trademarks being filed.

Due to trademark overcrowding, most common English words and phrases are already registered with the USPTO. Companies are now making up nonsensical English words such as ZXCVBN (taken from the last row of the keyboard) for registration. This does not bode well for the future.

What is needed is a more creative approach to using words from English and other popular languages that are sufficiently recognisable (eg, “Sunrise La Laguna” or “L’amour Sur Gold”). These types of multilingual portmanteau words are already rising in prominence in online marketing, as the world starts to move towards one social market on Instagram and TikTok. Younger generations generally respond well to these creative multilingual names, which open the door to a much larger pool of trademarks.

Another pool of names waiting to be used comes from the abandoned and dead trademarks in the USPTO database. The USPTO recently enacted the Trademark Modernisation Act, which enables trademark owners to clean out dead registrations and remove prior applicants that falsely obtained registration. In December 2021 a new type of action is due to be introduced, allowing applicants to challenge a registration based on non-use. This will significantly free up many desirable trademarks and enable IP owners to secure their valuable brands.

Finally, there exists another largely untapped market for unique names – the F-word. In 2019 the US Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on registering what can be construed as ‘bad words’. But surprisingly, or rather unsurprisingly, there are not many takers. There have been a few registrations using the F-word as a prefix, but they have mostly been clever puns on the F-word, rather than the actual word itself. Enterprising millennial and Gen-Z marketers can undoubtedly tap into the large pool of ‘bad words’ and obtain unique registrations, especially where there does not seem to be any stigma attached to these words, as can be seen from the free-form social media posts on that bastion of Gen-Z, TikTok.

These kinds of unique marks often reach registration earlier than most other more common names or phrases. This could be an incentive for IP owners to try out these multilingual or mal-lingual terms.

It is a registration FLUSTERCUCK, after all…

This is an insight article whose content has not been commissioned or written by the WTR editorial team, but which has been proofed and edited to run in accordance with the WTR style guide.

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