Nano-Naming No-Nos

Courtesy of Bryan Sugar Nanotechnology has the intellectual property community buzzing about all the potential patentable technology coming out of nanotechnology spin-offs. But many intellectual property practitioners are sitting by idly as they watch this new emerging industry make the same trademark blunders as the last emerging technology, the Internet. The Internet industry, in naming companies, products, and services, placed the prefix "e" before descriptive or generic terms to inform th

Bryan Sugar
May 18, 2003
Courtesy of Bryan Sugar

Nanotechnology has the intellectual property community buzzing about all the potential patentable technology coming out of nanotechnology spin-offs. But many intellectual property practitioners are sitting by idly as they watch this new emerging industry make the same trademark blunders as the last emerging technology, the Internet.

The Internet industry, in naming companies, products, and services, placed the prefix "e" before descriptive or generic terms to inform the public that the company, product, or service was Internet-related. However, the courts and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) determined that descriptive or generic terms do not become trademarks just because a descriptive prefix is added to the word. Therefore, many Internet names could not be afforded trademark protection. For example, the USPTO rejected the trademark E-catalog (for computer software used to create an electronic customer order catalog), as well as E-ticket (for computerized reservation and ticketing of...

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