‘THANKYOU’ Trademark Dispute is not so Polite
Citigroup has sued AT&T over their claim to the THANKYOU brand. I recently read this post http://www.techeye.net/business/thank-you-as-us-patent-office-trademarks-being-polite
It comes as a surprise to many that “thank you” and other commonly used, simple words and phrases, could even be trademarked. Any name, symbol, design, scent, sound, color, or motion that is capable of distinguishing your goods from the goods of others in the marketplace can become a trademark. What cannot be trademarked are words or phrases that are generic, deceptive, immoral or scandalous (although the recent Slants case may have changed this), the surname of another, and national symbols.
In response to this article, many comments have been posted laying blame on the USPTO for registering this mark; I have to stand up for the USPTO in this instance. As I noted above, THANKYOU, and any other word or phrase can be capable of distinguishing one’s service or goods from another so long as it is used in a trademark manner to identify source. Here THANKYOU acts as a trademark for “Promoting the goods and services of others through credit card customer loyalty, reward and redemption programs” Reg No.3249982. In fact Citi has registered a number of THANKYOU related marks for providing credit card services, customer reward and loyalty programs, and related services, including THANKYOU CITI REWARDS, CITI THANKYOU, THANKYOU, THANKYOU, CITIBUSINESS THANKYOU, THANKYOU FROM CITI, and THANKYOU YOUR WAY. As is apparent by Citigroup having attained this portfolio of registrations, these are the only THANKYOUs that represents the claimed services.
The above considered, THANKYOU is still not that outstanding as a phrase and will likely never become an extremely strong trademark. And, if Citi was to let AT&T use THANK YOU for its reward program too, it would certainly weaken the mark even further.
So, feel free to say thank you to your customers as trademark protection does not prevent you from using a mark on an unrelated service or product. Just don’t try to use the name on your rewards program…that’s been done!
If you have a brand or slogan that you are not sure if it can be protected contact the Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC today to discuss the details first.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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