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Someone just registered a trademark on the word "Mama"

UK00003645697

Status: Registered
Mark type: Word
Mark text: Mama
File date: 23 May 2021
Classes: 42

What does it mean for digital sellers, on Etsy for example? Can we sell things that use the word "Mama"? Can we use it in tags?

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  • More information is here. Nov 24, 2021 at 18:02
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    There are dozens of word marks for the word "mama" going back decades. You can't use "mama" of it would infringe on any of those that are still active, and you can use "mama" if it doesn't infringe. To learn about what kind of use might infringe, you might start with the Wikipedia article on trade mark protection.
    – phoog
    Nov 25, 2021 at 17:54
  • IANAL, but in a quick reading of the trademark from the link provided by @WeatherVane, it appears that the trademark pertains to graphic design companies, which means that you couldn't create another graphic design company with the name "Mama" in the UK, but this would by no means restrict the use of the word "mama" in other contexts.
    – Glen Yates
    Nov 26, 2021 at 13:52

3 Answers 3

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Trademarks apply only to a limited field. If you follow the link, it reports that it applies to class 42, graphic art design.

So you are free to use (and register "mama" for your food delivery service, for example.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Nov 26, 2021 at 22:52
  • There's an unclosed parenthesis in the second paragraph. Should probably be '[...] free to use (and register) "mama" for [...]'.
    – das-g
    Nov 27, 2021 at 9:03
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You should be fine.

Because, at the least, your use pre-dates the trademark.

enter image description here

Exactly this came up in Burger King (of Florida) v. Hoots, and it resulted not only in the predecessor keeping their name, but having market exclusivity in their area. (they were trying for "all of Illinois" but the judge decided it was not realistic to think people would drive 50 miles to eat at a burger stand. Clearly, the judge had never heard of In-n-Out.)

This was also a thorn in the side of Apple Computer. You see, the Beatles' in-house record label is called Apple Corps. This was when Apple was tiny and the Beatles could have squashed them like a bug. But a very reasonable "peaceful coexistence" was reached... where Apple would stay out of music and the Beatles would stay out of computers.

That got messier and messier as computers got better and got tone generators (for gaming, largely), able to interact with MIDI, gained the ability to sample sounds and replay samples (many older Mac users are familiar with a chime called "Sosumi" (read it phonetically LOL). And of course, the iPod and the iTunes Music Store were right over the top. It's been complicated.

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  • 5
    In Germany, there is (was?) a document courier company (as in physical documents) called G-Mail, which is the reason Google's Mail offering was known as Google Mail (at the domain googlemail.com) in Germany. G-Mail had planned to get into digital document management services, which is why they registered their mark for electronic mail as well. They never used it, though, so a couple of years ago, Google Mail was rebranded as Gmail in Germany. Nov 25, 2021 at 7:21
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    Same in UK, for several years - googlemail
    – Stilez
    Nov 25, 2021 at 8:58
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    the Beatles' in-house record label is called Apple Corps (who even knew this?) - all Beatles fans and anyone over 60? Nov 25, 2021 at 15:33
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    @MichaelHarvey I'm under 60, but I still remember the apple label on the first Beatles record I ever saw.
    – phoog
    Nov 25, 2021 at 17:55
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    I think that lots of people are very aware that the Beatles have a company called Apple Corps. The records label was even a picture of an apple. Historically it did more then just music - they had Apple Films and even Apple Electronics, which was probably an issue for the computer company.
    – Stormcloud
    Nov 26, 2021 at 11:15
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You can, of course, use that word outside the constraints of the registration. (Phew!)

The powers that be should have struck down any such claim, even within the category of Class 042 Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and industrial research services; design and development of computer hardware and software…

That they failed to do so says more about their understanding, than the principles involved.

This does, daily, matter to hundreds, prolly thousands and possibly vastly more people - at least artists graphic, literary or what have you - never mind the man in the street!

It's prolly apocryphal, and there's a court-house legend that when a well-known cola manufacturer tried to trademark a colour, the judge noted how much the brand had spent on the case, then said the restriction would be fine… while any argument stayed within a single Angstrom unit of the specification…

That cannot directly apply here, yet please consider the principle.

That the powers whose job is to protect you, me and Jo Public failed so to do and instead ruled in favour of a postulant with no possible justification but greed, says what?

Does it say the suitor was right?

Does it say the Court was right?

Does it say common sense was right?

What justification could there be for any of that, except a previous Court ruling? Who thinks previous rulings are sacrosanct; above challenge?

Logic and decency leave it open to anyone to challenge that failure, the qualifying factor being cash, and a great deal of it.

Lacking that cash, you're still allowed to use the word anywhere outside the categories specified.

Should you use the word even within the proscribed categories, you might expect to get at least one and prolly more letters of complaint from the "owner"'s lawyers… which letters will cost the "owner" more than it should, at least.

If I had the cash, I'd challenge that ruling on the primary-school ground that dictionary words can't be copyrighted.

Even with no cash, I'd push it until the claimant's lawyers made it indubitable, their next step really would be to go to Court.

By that stage, this nonsense would have cost the claimant several hundreds of the local currency.

Hooray!

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    5% answer 95% rant Nov 27, 2021 at 1:38
  • Can you write an answer that engages more with the law?
    – Pat W.
    Nov 27, 2021 at 12:13
  • Thanks George; Pat W. If you really don't you think my Post engaged more with the law than the Question did, why not say how or why? The very idea of a "trademark word" as such is anathema to general English-based law, as previously explained in no few previous SE Posts. A word - including "Mama" - might be copyrighted but trademarking would require not only the spelling of the word but also a complete description of its presentation, including its type style, colour and Lord knows what else. More… Dec 15, 2021 at 3:40
  • Further… Even so no word - including "Mama" - may be copyrighted except where it, or its use, is demonstrably original. For instance, JM Barry might have claimed copyright over the invented name "Wendy" but even then, trademarking would have required precise description of the graphics. Consider for instance "ford", among many another million-times-a-day logos. Who suggests the word "ford" by itself could ever be trademarked or copyrighted might end the discussion by trying to sue most geographers, extant or historical. Failing that, what? Dec 15, 2021 at 3:42

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