May 12, 2007

OK, so I use trademarks as verbs at work

"NEVER use a trademark as a verb", said the International Trademark Association very firmly (in a web page that has now been removed, but they still publish very similar advice in a PDF brochure you can get here); "Trademarks are products or services, never actions." As I remarked in this post, they barely know what they're talking about when it comes to grammar (trademarks are never products or services; they are nouns denoting products or services), and most companies, despite paying lip service to the rules, don't even follow the rules themselves. A spectacular example occurs in The New Yorker this week, on page 67. Under the face of a sheepish-looking young woman is the legend, "OK, so I Zappos at work." And the advertisment adds, "Check out our outstanding service and massive selection of shoes and apparel and you'll Zappos, too." So they can use their trademark as a verb; it's just you who shouldn't. Just ignore the trademark prescriptivists; to hell with them. Zappos your shoes, xerox your copies, hoover the floor. Tell them all they can sue you.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at May 12, 2007 05:55 PM