But today, I heard that the European body responsible for trademark registration has allowed one of these small businesses to trademark the phrase. So that means anyone printing this phrase on their own products is now in breach of European law and could therefore now be facing legal suits if they fail to stop selling such products. It seems perfectly legal, provided that a particular phrase has not already been trademarked, to do so as a tactic to knock a competitor out of the market. Quite an amazing situation isn’t it?
Many people can fall foul of trademark law by registering domains that make use of trademarked terms. There was a case a few years back in which some individual was forced to release a domain he had registered because it contained the phrase ‘think and grow rich’. His defence was that the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill was now in the public domain and, although that is indeed true, he still lost the case because the organisation that had allowed copyright to expire still held the trademark.
Here are some more examples of phrases that are ‘owned’ as trademarks:
- I’m lovin it
- Because you’re worth it
- It does what it says on the tin
A short while back, I heard that Facebook had been granted permission to trademark to the work ‘face’ when used within certain contexts.
So do be careful when registering domain names. You could quite easily spend a considerable amount of time and effort in building a site only to fall foul of the law and be forced to give up your domain.