Kent, WA asked in Trademark for Washington

Q: May I know please whether if it is legal to register a special, long-standing word as a company's trademark!?


A Word Mark named VIREMEDY and a Trademark as viRemedy have been cited on .

However, VIREMEDY has been the special name of a particular remedy since several years ago.

Everyone could simply search the Web for this word to see its history several years before 2016. (Some scholarly papers and subjects about Viremedy on the Web, also published before 2016, have been archived by WebCite too. This name has also been cited, to point out the mentioned remedy, in the abstract books of some international congresses before 2016.)

Additionally, an application has "officially" been filled and submitted by the main author of the papers to register a logo, also including this special name (Viremedy), for the mentioned remedy in 2005 (or 2006) to preclude any monopoly of this word by anyone.

May I know please if it has been legal for a company to register a special, long-standing word as its exclusive trademark!?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael Gerity
Michael Gerity
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Phoenix, AZ

A: Hello. What is important to remember here is that a trademark is a word/phrase/logo that is used in association with the commercial offering of some kind of product or service. The association with a particular product or service is the key here, as there is no trademark without such an association. In this particular case, the applicant is asking to register that word in association with herbal topical creams and dietary food supplements, to name a few. The fact that the word exists, and has been used before, doesn't matter. The question is whether the word has been used to market creams and supplements, or similar items.

A couple of examples. Amazon is clearly a word that already existed, but the company began using that word in an arbitrary manner to describe its offering of books (and later everything else). That was a new, commercial use of an existing word. Maybe a better example would be "Three-peat." This word got thrown around by years (with sports announcers making the almost comical mistake of saying that Pat Riley had "patented" the word). However, the word was no being used to sell any products or services (you cannot argue that winning three championships in a row is a "service" you offer). So, eventually, Pat Riley actually did register Three-peat as a trademark, using it as a brand name for sportwear. The key there was that he started using it to sell a product, the sportwear, which moves the word from something people use to being eligible for trademark protection.

Hope that helps.

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