Procter and Gamble Company[1] has applied to register some interesting trademarks:

  • FOMO
  • TL;DR
  • NSFW
  • FTW
  • FML
  • WTF
  • LOL
  • NBD

Does that mean people can’t use those acronyms anymore?

Common sense tells you it doesn’t mean that.

First, trademark applications and registrations are for particular goods and/or services: Beeline® is a registered trademark for legal services. The P&G applications cover things like soaps, detergents, air fresheners, and fabric softeners.

If P&G has a trademark registration for WTF for detergents it means only that you wouldn’t be allowed to use WTF as a trademark to sell detergent and similar products:

  • You can still say WTF;
  • You can still use WTF in advertising and on packaging for dissimilar products;
  • You can still write an email to your friend saying “WTF is wrong with you? You know I use only Woolite® to wash my sweaters. You ruined my twin set.”

It’s also worth noting that P&G hasn’t received these registrations yet. So far, P&G has only applied. The applications are all based on “intent-to-use.” That means that P&G still has to use each of the acronyms in connection with the goods before they can complete the registrations.  In other words, the existence of the applications means only that P&G was willing to pay to create placeholders because it intends to use each of the acronyms to sell stuff. Sometimes, companies don’t follow through on their intentions.

So, DWAI. IMHO P&G’s applications are NP and worrying about this is a CWOT.




[1] As of August 2018, Procter and Gamble Company owns 1,498 live trademark registrations. Amusingly there are also some live registrations where “Procter” is misspelled as “Proctor.” Not sure what to make of that.

What Are All Those Symbols ®©™?

We see them all the time, everywhere we go. But what do all those symbols mean?

Trademark Symbols[1]

® – The “R in a circle” stands for “registered trademark.” A person or company using this symbol has trademark rights that are registered with either the United States Trademark Office or a trademark office of another country or jurisdiction (like the European Union).

™ – This stands for “trademark.” It means the person or company has trademark rights that may or may not be registered.

SM  – This stands for “servicemark”. It’s basically the same as ™ but for services instead of products.

Copyright Symbol[2]

© – This is the copyright symbol. It means that the person or company is claiming copyright. This symbol is used whether or not the copyright is registered.

Should I Be Using Them?

Yeah, you really should.

You should use the copyright symbol on all copies of copyrighted works. Here’s how I use it:

2019 © Berdinis Law P.C.

cropped-bee-only1You should use a trademark symbol on all your trademarks. If you have an UN-registered trademark, you should use the ™ (or SM). If you have a registered trademark, you should use ®.

SuperDry copy 2

Some companies, like SuperDry® really go all out in featuring the symbol.

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 2.43.58 PM.png

Lately, some companies don’t include the symbol because they feel it interferes with the look and lines of their mark. When you’re as famous as Google®, you’re welcome to lose the ®.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?



[1] A trademark is a word, short phrase, design, etc. used to let people know the source of goods or services. Nike® is a trademark for athletic shoes. Google® is a servicemark for internet search services. A trademark can be one word, a few words or (rarely) lots of words. It can be a design, alone or with words. It can also be a sound or a smell or anything else that identifies a source of goods or services.

Trademark rights allow you to stop other people from using your trademark or a trademark that’s “confusingly similar” to your trademark.

[2] Copyright protects “original works of authorship”. This includes literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. The 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.