Procter & Gamble Co (P&G), the household products company, has applied to trademark acronyms common in “textspeak,” including “LOL” and “WTF.”
If successful, the terms could be used to market products such as soap, detergents and air fresheners to attract younger consumers.
P&G in April registered the trademark applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The newly branded products would be sold alongside well-known items such as Febreze, Fairy and Mr Clean.
Alongside LOL (“laughing out loud”) and WTF (“what the fuck”), other acronyms that the firm has applied to trademark are NBD (“no big deal”) and FML (“fuck my life”).
The company’s applications have not yet been approved.
Ad Age said that the trademark office has requested clarification regarding the applications and the company has until January to respond.
Company board member Nelson Peltz in March told CNBC that younger customers did not want “one size fits all” brands, but products that “they have an emotional attachment to.”
According to statistics portal Statista, millennials in the US are expected to increase their annual spending to US$1.4 trillion by 2020.
Procter & Gamble is not the first company to try to trademark well-known terms. In the US, the New England Patriots tried to trademark “19-0,” a reference to an unbeaten season, just two weeks before they lost the US National Football League’s Super Bowl championship to the New York Giants.
Walmart Inc tried to trademark the yellow smiley face, which has been around since the 1970s. It got into legal battles with a rival claim from Franklin Loufrani, the president of The Smiley Co in Brussels, and lost in an attempt to sue artist Charles Smith for parodying the symbol.
More successful were Facebook Inc, who trademarked the word “face” in reference to telecommunication services. Paris Hilton owns the words “that’s hot” and successfully sued Hallmark Cards Inc greetings cards for using it, while celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe trademarked “bananas.”
Procter & Gamble has been contacted for comment.
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