In the wake of his sudden rise to fame, the New York Knicks phenomenon and point guard Jeremy Lin has taken the step of trademarking the word “Linsanity.” What makes “Linsanity” a trademarkeable phrase? The fact that the word is distinctive really helps. Being distinctive may even include visual elements, such as a logo or the way a word is drawn or shaped. Even some smells, images, or unique voices, can sometimes be trademarked. Generally, the more unique and distinctive a name or slogan is, the stronger the trademark.
It’s a little unusual to have a personal name trademarked. John Smith, for example, would have trouble trademarking his name, because it’s so common. But “Linsanity” is as much an unusual phrase as it is a name. In Jeremy Lin’s case, the trademark filing also begins the process of trademarking a whole range of other possible ‘Jeremy Lin’ endorsements. If you feel you have a valuable word or name you should move quickly because the world of trademarks is first-come, first-served. If someone applies for the same trademark before you, they will get it. Also, waiting too long, until a word becomes too common or “generic,” may lead to losing your special claim to use your own good name.
Whether or not you should register your company’s name or slogan is an important decision that depends on factors including its value to your company, your plans to grow, and the competitiveness of the market. Once you have your trademark you can tell the world that the name or words belong to you and can’t be used without your approval, and you can go after anyone who infringes on that trademark.