Popsicles, law, and language

Companies have to protect their trademarks, of course. There are even a few well-known examples where trademarks were lost because they weren’t protected — Wikipedia cites aspirin, dry ice, escalator, kerosene, laundromat, linoleum, phonograph, thermos, videotape, and zipper — so we understand why the lawyers sometimes seem over-zealous on this matter.

Nevertheless, it seemed a bit excessive (dare I say amusing?) to read these remarks by the lawyers for Popsicle®, attempting to regular speech as well as commercial writing:

The Popsicle®, Creamsicle® and Fudgsicle® trademarks should never be used as nouns. For example, it is not correct to say “I’d like a Popsicle.” It is correct to say “I’d like a Popsicle® ice pop.”

The Popsicle®, Creamsicle® and Fudgsicle® trademarks should never be used in the plural form. For example, it is not correct say “I love Popsicles.” It is correct to say “I love Popsicle® ice pops.”

The Popsicle®, Creamsicle® and Fudgsicle® trademarks should not be used in the possessive form. For example, it is not correct to say “Popsicle’s great taste.” It is correct to say “the great taste of Popsicle®ice pops.”

Be honest, now: who do you know who has ever said “I love Popsicle® ice pops” when they mean “I love Popsicles”?



Categories: Life, Linguistics