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Turns Out Words Matter

By Tim Chrisman
Freedom | Fully Human | Supplements

I am not by instinct a very detail-oriented person. I tend to focus on the details of important things (like pizza toppings, or supplement formulations). That means I don’t really pay attention to the other ones (like commas and painting fences to my wife’s standards). In fact, it took me an embarrassingly long time to standardize the recipe to a meal I make every week because I didn’t want to measure anything. I’m sharing all of this with you so you have my relationship to details in mind while I tell you about what happened when I filed to trademark the Fully Human logo, and learned the hard way that a single word really matters.

A Quick Side Note on the Trademark Process

Filing a trademark is fairly simple. You

  1. Go to USPTO.gov
  2. Figure out how to apply for an account
  3. Navigate to the trademark process site
  4. Click on the how-to video
  5. Realize you don’t want to watch it
  6. Flail around on the site for a few minutes until you find the trademark application page
  7. Find out you need to verify your account
  8. Verify your account by mailing in an application
  9. Get a customer number back via the mail
  10. Finally get to the trademark application
  11. Realize you might have been able to do a bunch of prep while you waited for your account to be verified
  12. Just ‘wing it’ and fill in the application and hit submit
  13. Get an email saying your application will be looked at in 3 months

See – simple…although to be fair, that is the process up until the point of the part of the story about words mattering.

Back To Trademark Story

So in my original application I put that I was applying to trademark the following design:

The literal element of the mark consists of Fully Human. The color(s) Black background Electric Blue, Green is/are claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of stylized stick figure in black overlaid on a sideways, rounded square divided up between shades of blue and green, with small squares falling off the lower right edge with the text Fully Human below the shapes.

Yep – long winded, but generally described the image (which I also had to attach to the application).

After 3 months I got a notice from the Trademark Office saying my application was being reviewed, and that, as it was filed, it would be rejected. Because, as I was told, the background color of the label cannot be claimed as part of the mark.

The Trademark Office employee who worked with me was SUPER helpful and ended up suggesting an edit to my application that could be approved and wouldn’t slow the process down. That edit said:

The mark consists of a stylized stick figure in black overlaid on a sideways, rounded square divided up between shades of blue and green, with small squares in blue and green falling off the lower right edge with the wording “Fully Human” in beige below the shapes. The colors black, blue, green and beige are claimed as a feature of the mark.

Now when I compared the two, all I really saw was that the word background had been removed. There were some words moved around – but otherwise it was all there. And I realized something. One word really matters.

Attention To Detail

Now, again, I am not by instinct a detail oriented person. So my obvious first question for the Trademark dude was, why can’t a trademark include a black background?

Because it turns out, people have actually tried to trademark blank squares of colors in order to file claims against companies that use those colors. Yep…not kidding. So because of things like that, all trademarks have to be considered on a transparent background.

This got me thinking – where else was I using the wrong words, wrong ideas or otherwise getting the little details wrong.

The Full Review

This prompted a fairly long (by my standards) review of my processes (which was interrupted by COVID-19). This culminated in me just accepting myself as the ‘not detail dude’, and finding people to help me with that.

Now instead of being the Fully Human Full Dude, I have a Full Team including a super awesome editor and co-writer (Katie), an analytic genius (Samantha), and a design guru (Chris). These three and others combine to ensure I stay on track, Fully Human stays awesome, and you get support in your fight against inflammation.

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