Are there rules about trademarking non-English and/or made-up words?

Yes and no. You can file a trademark in any language – English, Spanish, Finnish, gibberish – so long as it is not already registered to someone else in the same, or a similar, class. Here’s the catch: translations count. The Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents asserts that “a foreign word (from a language familiar to an appreciable segment of American consumers) and the English equivalent may be held to be confusingly similar.” In other words, it’s a safe bet that PARADISE and PARADISO are one and the same, so far as a USPTO examiner is concerned.

Names, or words that appear to be, can be similarly tricky. While it is allowable to trademark a brand or product that employs a surname, such applications require documentable proof of permission if the name belongs to a living individual (i.e. CAREN COOK’S CREATIONS would require a disclaimer citing Caren Cook’s permission to use her moniker). Nonsense words, of course, are not held to the same standard, but sometimes a made-up word or phrase can give the appearance of a surname. In these instances, a disclaimer must be issued stating that the mark does not identify a living individual, or that there is no English translation.

All of this to say that research is an important part of the trademark process.

are there rules about trademark non english and or made up words 09