We put some marketers and an attorney in a [virtual] room and kicked off this year’s AdWeek with a Skillshop hosted by Katie Markert, an attorney within Barclay Damon LLP’s Branding, Trademarks, and Copyrights practice group. 

Katie laid down the law to help us understand what goes into developing a strong brand name, and it turns out, not all trademarks are created equal—they actually reside on a spectrum. She walked us through this spectrum and showed us, from worst to best, how trademarks can be created with strong legal backing. From generic trademarks to the fanciful, Katie described the varying levels of trademark strength and gave some real-world examples. 

Another big takeaway…beware of genericide! Did you own a “return top” as a kid? How about a “yoyo”? Well Katie asked us if we could think of the generic term for yoyo, and we were stumped. Turns out, YO-YO was actually a brand name trademarked by Duncan Co. in 1932 for “return top” toys. This product eventually fell victim to genericide due to a faulty trademark registration, and all of these toys could legally be referred to as yo-yos, and they were. The name continued to spread as the generic term, and thus, you probably owned a yo-yo as a kid–not a “return top”.

Katie concluded her SkillShop with a Q&A that answered our deepest branding and trademark questions. Thank you Katie! Learn more about Katie’s legal experience here.