Can you Trademark a Common Word or Phrase


If you’ve got a great idea for a new brand, you’re probably wondering whether or not it’s possible to trademark it. After all, there are plenty of brand names out there that seem like they should be trademarked but aren’t. For example:

There’s the phrase “suck it” which is used both as an exclamation and a verb in popular culture today; however, it’s unlikely that anyone could actually register this common phrase as their own. But why? Why isn’t “suck it” available for trademarking? Can common words and phrases even be protected by intellectual property laws at all? Let’s find out!

Can you Trademark a Common Word or Phrase?

The answer is yes, but it depends. You can trademark a common word or phrase if you can show that it is distinctive and famous. In other words, there are certain aspects of the word or phrase that make it stand out from others in its field. For example, “Google” has become synonymous with searching for information online, so this one-word mark stands out from other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing. Likewise “Coca-Cola” and “McDonald’s” is recognized by consumers far and wide as brand names because they have become part of popular culture through advertising campaigns over many years.

How to Trademark a Common Word or Phrase in the US

The first step in trademarking a common word or phrase is to check if it’s available for registration. The USPTO keeps a database of registered trademarks and pending applications, which you can search here. If your mark isn’t available, then you’ll need to make sure the mark is “distinctive” before proceeding with filing an application.

A distinctive mark is one that has acquired secondary meaning—that is, the consuming public associates it with a specific source or origin of goods or services. This means they can’t be used by anyone else in the same field. For example “apple” as a fruit may not be distinctive when compared with other fruits like oranges (which are also red), however, Apple Computer Company’s use of APPLE for computers makes it distinctive because consumers associate this word exclusively with them (and perhaps even more so since there are many other companies using APPLE).

If your mark isn’t inherently distinctive (like APPLE), then you will need to demonstrate that people would recognize the similarity between your product/service and its actual source from others’ products/services (e.g., toys from Toys-R-Us vs Amazon’s toy section).

How to Register a Trademark in the US

You can apply to register your trademark online through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.

After you’ve registered the mark, you can use a symbol called TM next to the term or phrase to show that it’s a trademarked name or phrase owned by someone else.

You can also place an ® after a word or phrase once it’s been officially registered as part of a federally-trademarked brand name in order to indicate that this specific word is trademarked, even though there are other companies using similar terms without having their own registered trademarks with these marks on them (which is why we advise against using these symbols).


If you want to trademark a common word or phrase as your company’s name, there are some things you’ll need to do. First, the mark must be distinctive and not confusingly similar to other trademarks. Second, it should not describe what you do or the services you offer (for example, “cleaning service”) or use generic terms that are too broad (for example, “goods”). Your trademark application will likely be rejected if it does not meet these requirements.

The USPTO also requires that any proposed trademark be used in commerce before being registered with them—so if you’re thinking of applying for one now but aren’t currently using it yet then hold off until later! You’ll need proof of actual use by way of receipts from customers who have ordered products under this name or logo; some businesses may even require their own employee documentation stating when and where they saw something using this particular phrase being advertised as well.


If you want to trademark a common word or phrase in the US, then it is possible. The key is to be able to prove that the word or phrase has acquired a secondary meaning in association with your brand. This means that consumers associate the word or phrase with your brand rather than others who may use it as well. The other important factor is that you must show intent by using the trademark consistently across all of your marketing materials and advertising campaigns before filing an application for registration with the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office).

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