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Are You on the Trademark Naughty or Nice List?

Santa’s making a list and checking it twice.  With the help of his trademark elves, he’s going to find out whether brand owners have been naughty or nice when it comes to using their trademarks properly.  Those on the Nice List get rewarded with the ultimate Christmas present… enforceable trademark rights!  Those on the Naughty List may lose their trademark rights and/or suffer from genericide.

We wanted to gift our readers with some helpful tips to keep brand owners on the Trademark Nice List.  So be good for goodness sake!

Be Nice!

  • Use your trademark as a proper adjective by following it with a common term.
    • “The Elf on the Shelf” book
  • Let consumers know you’re using the word and/or logo as a trademark by offsetting it. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as using ® for registered trademarks or TM for unregistered trademarks, quotation marks, italics, all capital letters, initial capital letter, or boldface.
    • Merry Elfin’ Christmas® clothing
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!TM musical
    • “Christmas Opoly” board games
    • Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas events
    • CHRISTMAS JAM beer
    • Christmas in July fireworks
  • Be consistent with how you use your mark in the marketplace.
  • Be protective of your mark.  If you know someone is using your trademark or a similar mark without your authorization, seek an attorney and take action!

Don’t Be Naughty!

  • Don’t use your trademark as a noun!
    • Say “Do you want some SWEET BABY JESUS beer?,” not “Do you want some SWEET BABY JESUS?”
  • Don’t use your trademark as a verb!
  • Don’t alter or deviate from the established registered spelling or appearance of the mark.
  • If your trademark is singular, don’t make it plural!
    • “The Salvation Army”, not “The Salvation Armies”
  • If your trademark is plural, don’t make it singular!
    • “Mistletones” musical group, not “Mistletone”

If you have any questions about this post or any other trademark issue, please contact Danielle DeFilippis at or Jeanne Hamburg at