Test your trademark knowledge

How much attention do you pay to trademarks? Mistakenly use one to refer to a generic product, and you can land yourself with a letter from the company concerned’s trademark lawyers, and the need to write embarrassing apologies, writes Cathy Relf.

While it’s OK to tweak trademarks slightly to bring them into line with standard English (for example More Than, rather than MORE TH>N), it’s not OK to use a trademarked name to describe a product not made by that company.

In some cases, the horse has already bolted – ‘Hoover’ is now almost synonymous with ‘vacuum cleaner’, for example, regardless of the brand. But use ‘Thermos’ to describe a vacuum flask not made by Thermos and you’re on dodgy ground.

Take our quiz to see how trademark-aware you are. For each item, decide whether it’s a current trademark, a lapsed trademark or a red herring. To make it more difficult, we’ve written them all with an initial capital.

After you submit your answers, you’ll get an explanation of each one.

Jacuzzi




Coke




Hot Dog




Aspirin




Lycra




Tetra Pak




Escalator




Biro




Heroin




Tannoy




Moped




Portaloo






How did you do? Let us know below, and if you know of any other trademark trivia, please share.

<<Read the May 2012 e-bulletin

The definitive guide to transforming the writing of individuals and teams

GET YOUR FREE PDF COPY NOW

Comments