Use It or Lose It

Use It or Lose It- How to Protect Your Brand

 When it comes to protecting your brand the saying is true, “Use it or lose it”.   A trademark gives you the right to prevent others from using similar marks in the marketplace.  However registering a mark isn’t enough.  The mark has to be used to be protected.

David Malick an attorney with RichardsonClement PC says, “If you use it the brand, then you have legal rights, if you don’t use it you don’t have rights.”    “For instance if you use a brand geographically, you have rights in that geographic area,” he says.  “If you use a brand across state lines you may be able to register with U.S. Patent Office but if you have a brand and fail to use it, you lose that registration.”

Use the Brand Properly

Malick adds in some cases, the use of a brand isn’t enough.  “If you use as an adjective, that’s proper but if you use as a noun so the brand becomes a word in the dictionary, then you can lose the brand,” he says.

Examples of Lost Brands

One example is the word escalator.  It used to be a trademark.  “They started calling them escalators instead of moving stairs made by Escalator, and they lost the brand, the name became a noun in the dictionary,” Malick says.

Examples of Lost Brands:

  • aspirin
  • raisin bran
  • yo yo
  • zipper
  • cellophane
  • dry ice
  • light beer
  • nylon
  • trampoline
  • thermos

In each of these instances the word originated as a brand, but as the brand became used to identify the product as a noun, they lost their trademark status.  When choosing a brand, it’s important to use it and use it properly.


RichardsonClement PC, is a full-service firm that specializes in representing closely held companies and their owners to help protect them from internal and external threats, of whatever nature or origin. We also help businesses identify and protect their intellectual property such as marks (brand), trade secrets, and other proprietary or confidential information.  At RichardsonClement PC, defending business is our business.  More information is available at

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