Could You Be Sued for Saying a Common Word or Phrase?

Do you have a favorite phrase that you like to say a lot? Now imagine liking your favorite phrase so much that you would want to prevent other people from using your preferred words by trademarking those words!

Celebrities and companies have trademarked words and expressions that you’ve heard in movies and advertisements. Some of these words are so common that you might wonder if you could get in trouble with the law for innocently saying an everyday word or phrase.

Interestingly, it is possible to trademark commonly used words and phrases, such as apple. Apple, the company, can’t trademark “apple” if they’re selling fruit products. But they are selling devices such as computers and phones, not edible products related to fruit. 

Similarly, you can’t trademark the word “pencil” if you want to sell pencil products. But you could trademark “pencil” if you wanted to sell, for example, sofas or gardening tools under the name “pencil.” For more on trademarking common words, check out this post.

You might be surprised that an expression as common as “Merry Christmas” is trademarked. With Christmas around the corner, you might wonder if you, as a business owner, can write “Merry Christmas” on your custom-designed T-shirt that you’re selling on Etsy. Or if you can write Merry Christmas on the homemade card you’re going to give to your family.

Fortunately, you can write “Merry Christmas” on the products that you are making because you’re wishing someone a certain feeling. However, you can’t use “Merry Christmas” on certain food products, decorations, cigar products, and types of clothes… if you’re using them as a type of trademark for your business.

So you don’t have to worry about infringing trademarks on common, everyday words unless you’re thinking of creating and marketing a product using a trademarked word or phrase. 

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5 thoughts on “Could You Be Sued for Saying a Common Word or Phrase?

  1. Hey an interesting post.
    I’m thinking what words are trademarked in India 🤔
    Because in India everything is cool.
    Here there are no rules for stuff like that.
    And I’ve seen people using logos and names of popular brands to sell their stuff.
    Here you can find Guccii, apple, poma, abidas etc on the roadside 😅.
    How are you ?

    Liked by 1 person

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