Can I Trademark a Made-up Word?
I’m commonly asked if a word that is made-up can be trademarked. The good news for these folks is you can trademark a made-up word that you are using to brand your goods and services.
Made-up words are usually considered to be very strong and protectable trademarks, as the words will have no meaning or context outside of branding or marketing your product or service. If a word is first used to present a specific product or service to consumers, it will generate a stronger association with the product or service. Trademarking a made-up word will not protect your made-up word from entering into everyday use, nor will it prevent speakers and writers from using the word in a way other than intended. For example, “googling” has become a very common verb that refers to searching for information via Internet search engines.
If you decide to trademark a made-up word, then you should have a thorough trademark search performed to ensure that there are no other prior-filed trademarks for similar made-up words. It is also advisable to have the made-up word evaluated by a trademark attorney in order to ascertain the strength of the particular trademark. We recommend that you contact us today, as it’s best to involve a trademark attorney as early as possible in the trademarking process.
Examples of these Trademarks
Several made-up words have become ubiquitous in modern language and were successfully trademarked.
The Eastman Kodak Company was founded in 1888, and eventually rose to become the dominant provider of cameras film.
At one point, the company was responsible for 90% of film sales, and 85% of camera sales (Source). Despite those staggering numbers, the shift to digital photography eventually drove the company into bankruptcy.
The word “Kodak” was first registered as a trademark in 1888. There has been some fanciful speculation, from time to time, on how the name was originated. But the plain truth is that Eastman invented it out of thin air.
He explained: “I devised the name myself. The letter ‘K’ had been a favorite with me — it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter. It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K.’ The word ‘Kodak’ is the result.” Eastman also selected Kodak’s distinctive yellow trade dress, which is widely known throughout the world. (Source)
Although based on the mathematics term “googol”, Google is a made-up word by the search engine giant.
Page and Brin originally nicknamed their new search engine “BackRub”, because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. Eventually, they changed the name to Google; the name of the search engine originated from a misspelling of the word “googol”, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information. (Source)
The “Google” trademark was originally filed on September 16, 1998.
If you’re interested in trademarking a made-up word, you may also want to read these articles.
The Trademark Process