Further to Damien and Tom's posts on this matter today, I should like to make our own position perfectly clear.
Q: What do zippers, baby oil, brassieres and trampolines have in common?
A: No, the answer isn't that they're all part of the setup for a highly inappropriate joke. In fact, the above list (along with thermos, cellophane, escalator, elevator, dry ice and many more) are all words that fell victim to those products' very success and, as they became more and more popular, slipped from trademarked status into common usage.
Will "Bubble Brothers" manage to avoid this fate? This year has brought a spate of news stories about the phrase's addition to the People's Republic of Cork and the Munster English dictionaries, an honour that's simultaneously highly flattering and faintly unsettling. Consider, for example, this passage from a New York Times story published last May:
"Jim sent a message introducing himself and asking, 'Do you want to throw a party?'" Mr. Fry recalled in a telephone interview from his home in Buda, Tex. 'So we Bubble Brothersed him, he passed the test, and B called him. That was in March 1996; we spent the summer organizing the event, and we hosted it that autumn.'"Now, since Rory and Billy didn't actually launch Bubble Brothers until 1997, Mr. Fry's usage of 'Bubble Brothers' is as distressing to our trademark lawyers as it is thrilling to our marketing folks. So, lest our name go the way of the elevators and escalators of yesteryear, we thought it was time we offered this quick semantic primer.
A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device that identifies a particular company's products or services. Bubble Brothers is a trademark identifying Bubble Brothers Ltd. and our wine technology and services. While we're pleased that so many people think of us when they think of exciting wine, let's face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we'd like to make clear that you should please only use "Bubble Brothers" when you’re actually referring to Bubble Brothers Ltd. and our services.
Here are some hopefully helpful examples.
Usage: 'Bubble Brothers' as noun referring to, well, us.Thanks for your attention, and we look forward to serving your wine-related enjoyment needs again soon.
Example: "I just love Bubble Brothers, they're soooo cute and cuddly and adorable and dacent!"
Our lawyers say: Good. Very, very good. There's no question here that you're referring to Bubble Brothers Ltd. as a company. Use it widely, and hey, tell a friend.
Usage: 'Bubble Brothers' as verb referring to searching for exciting wines from, um, Bubble Brothers.
Example: "I Bubble Brothersed it at the well-known shop in the English Market, Bubble Brothers, and it's pretty delicious all right."
Our lawyers say: Well, we're happy at least that it's clear you mean shopping at Bubble Brothers. As friends of the Wine Depot note, to "Bubble Brothers" means "to engage Bubble Brothers' friendly staff in conversation by way of finding out information about sensational wines from around the world."
Usage: 'Bubble Brothers' as verb referring to searching for information via any conduit other than Bubble Brothers.
Example: "I bubble brothersed him at Tesco's and it's pretty delicious all right."
Our lawyers say: Bad. Very, very bad. You can only "Bubble Brothers" at our dedicated retail outlets. If you absolutely must use one of our competitors, please feel free to "buy" from Tesco or any other wine merchant.
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