Trademarks and other proprietary terms

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Especially in North America, trademark litigation constitutes a prominent area of applied linguistics. As legal consultants, linguists bring their professional expertise to bear upon three issues: (1) <b>likelihood of confusion </b>of two marks; (2) categorization of the <b>strength of a mark </b>with respect to its place on a continuum of semantic/pragmatic categories technically labeled “generic,” “descriptive,” “suggestive,” “fanciful,” and “arbitrary”; and (3) <b>propriety of a mark</b>, that is, whether it is “scandalous,” or “disparaging.” Consulting linguists typically write descriptive reports that analyze the linguistic facts underlying the issues of particular cases – sometimes in rebuttal to other linguists’ reports. Often, linguists are also called upon to give sworn testimony based upon the reports they have prepared.


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