"TM"ing the Blogosphere

Bill Sjostrom —  17 January 2006

It looks like people take issue with our use of TM after our name and tagline. See Gordon’s post at the Conglomerate and this comment from Josh’s post:

Great blog, but do you really want to trademark this: “Academic commentary on law, business, economics and more�? It’s tacky. There are millions of bloggers out there, and if everyone starts trademarking everything then there will hardly be an un-trademarked phrase available. It’s not in the spirit of openness that the internet thrives on. Are you really going to bring a trademark action against some other blogger that also wants to use this byline? Look around at the most famous and widely read bloggers. They don’t thrive because of their cleverly trademarked name or phrase; it’s because the quality of their work draws people back. Any “copycat� would just wither on the vine. You’re not selling widgets here, you’re having a conversation.

I slapped on “TM” with little thought (Geoff and I did discuss whether SM was more appropriate) and out of habit (when I worked in-house, one of my jobs was to provide legal review of product catalogs, marketing materials, etc., and the main thing this entailed was slapping on TM and ® at every opportunity). After further thought, I’ll pull it off the tagline. I’m inclined to leave it on the name. Thoughts?

10 responses to "TM"ing the Blogosphere


    You can essentially slap TM on anything (whether it gets you anything or not is another question). You’re right on ®. I was only slapping it on words, logos, etc. that were actually registered with the USPTO.


    Speaking of trademarks:

    I didn’t know that at TM wa something you could just “slap-on” to something. Can you really put an ® on anything at a whim. I was always under the impression that the ® could only be used on actual trademarks approved and registered by the USPTO.

    Also, don’t you think the nice lawyers at EBAY might have something to say about your use of their trademark?

    Just idle curious wanderings of the mind, and all – trying to help you build content…

    Best of luck with your blog.


    I think it already has had its comic effect.


    I say drop the “TM,” unless it is meant for comic effect.


    That’s an excellent suggestion. Unfortunately, I have already trademarked the term “and More”. Furthermore, I have a business method patent on “publishing verbal commentary and/or analysis over the internets in frequently updated web journal (or Web Log) form using the instrumentalities of interstate commerce”. I will license this valuable intellectual property for $.01 per post.


    Perhaps I was wrong in this assumption, but I thought “TM” was short-hand for Truth on the Market.


    Guys, you mean the “TM” thing wasn’t a joke? I thought it was a parody on all those unbearably righteous and self-important blog subtitles.

    Actually, the perfect subtitle would be “AcademicTM CommentaryTM onTM LawTM, BusinessTM, EconomicsTM andTM MoreTM�TM


    Ok, this might be obvious, but here is a little TM101: The trademark symbol does not give you a right in the mark, and omission of the trademark symbol does not cause you to “relinquish” your rights. The sole function of the symbol is to alert people that you have or are claiming a trademark. I think it looks sort of over-the-top on the tagline, but not so much on the header.


    I’m awlays reluctant to relinquish a property right for no good reason other than because not doing so is “tacky.” But precisely because we are of a piece with the internet’s “spirit of openness,” perhaps what matters most for the success of the endeavor is, in fact, others’ perceptions. So I’m game. The future is uncertain (another argument in favor of keeping the right . . . ) but let’s be honest: The smart money says the expected cost of giving it up approaches zero.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. TRUTH ON THE MARKET » Group Blog Agreement - January 21, 2006

    […] An initial question, of course, is whether a group blog even needs a governing document. We’re not talking about a business deal here. It’s just some law profs spouting off on various topics. Papering the relationship may be contrary to the spirit of the blogosphere (similar to putting “TMâ€? on a blog tagline). […]