Is the plural form of the term “astrological musing” trademarked?


Today I received an unusual comment that took me by surprise.  It read:

“Please don’t use the words “astrological musings” in the title of your posts, I have had a blog by that title since 2005 and I have a trademark on that phrase. Thank you for your cooperation.”

The writer was identified as Lynn and at first I thought it was spam or a prank, until I looked up the associated website: astrodynamics.net.  This site belongs to someone called Lynn Hayes, but I have no idea whether the comment on my blog came from this Lynn or from someone who had access to her account.

I had never heard of Lynn Hayes before or of a blog called “Astrological Musings,” so I did a search and indeed found a blog entitled “Astrological Musings! Exlporing Planets and Possibilities with Lynn Hayes …” (note the exclamation point).  Because of the exclamation point, this title looks more like a “trademark” than the common English phrase “astrological musings,” which was in common use long before 2005.  The comment from Lynn does not clarify whether the term “astrological musings” or “astrological musings!” (with the !) is the trademarked term, or whether the singular form “astrological musing” is also trademarked.

The comment also prompted me to read about trademark law, which apparently began in 13th century England to protect consumers against counterfeit goods.  I also learned that “Consumer Confusion” is the legal test of trademark infringement.  It is also perfectly legal to refer to trademarked names nominatively, as I have done in this post.

Although I have no intention of infringing on anyone’s trademark, there is no chance of consumer confusion even if I were to use the term “astrological musings” in the title on a post.  My blog is clearly labeled on every page “Anthony Louis – Astrology and Tarot Blog” and Lynn’s blog is clearly labeled “Astrological Musings! Exlporing Planets and Possibilities with Lynn Hayes.”   In addition, I am careful to cite my sources and to give credit to other authors’ work.  It would have to be a pretty dim-witted consumer to confuse my blog with that of Lynn Hayes, but I’m sure such people exist.

If the real Lynn Hayes of the “Astrological Musings!” blog did post the comment, I assure her that I have no intention of misleading readers into thinking I am representing her ideas on astrological topics.  (If anyone has trademarked the term “astrological topics,” I apologize for using it here and did not intend to infringe your rights.)   If an imposter posted the comment on my blog in her name to embarrass her, I hope that the real Lynn Hayes can track down the culprit and protect the words written in her name.

On the positive side, I discovered a new astrology blog (I hope “astrology blog” is not trademarked) as a result of this comment.  It looks kind of interesting, so I’ll have to take a closer look at it.

Addendum and clarification:  I just received a new message from Lynn which reads in part: “I am involved in a legal dispute with Beliefnet who has someone else writing my blog which they carried for a number of years and they have claimed the trademark. As a result I have in fact trademarked Astrological Musings so that there is no confusion. Being caught up in this legality I have been on a bit of a rampage…”

Her initial comment makes more sense in this context.  I can certainly understand feeling enraged about having one’s work stolen. I wish her luck with her legal difficulties, and as I said above, I have no intention of claiming credit for any of her work.

No hard feelings.

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About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
This entry was posted in Astrology. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Is the plural form of the term “astrological musing” trademarked?

  1. stardreamer says:

    Reblogged this on Stardreamer Stararts & Tarot and commented:
    Is it even possible to trademark a phrase? What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that no one anywhere can use the words astrological musings in a written sentence? This concerns me. This is also doesn’t seem like a very nice way to treat a colleague. To be fair, I am a huge fan of Anthony Louis’ work. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Blessings

  2. As best I know, you cannot trademark a phrase. You can only trademark a logo, which may include words, but the words by themselves are not trademarked. Trademarking a logo costs quite a bit of money and the logo is usually marked by the capital R in a circle to show that it is a properly registered trademark. The author may have confused trademarks with copyright, but you can’t copyright a phrase either, as best I know. My info may be out of date, but I’ve not heard of these rules changing. Nor can you trademark or copyright a book title. Publishers usually do a search for a title before they used it – just to avoid confusion. But it isn’t trademarked or even copyrighted.

  3. Christiane says:

    Why not ask for proof that it’s trademarked? She also should make it clear on her blog that it’s a trademarked phrase using the (TM) symbol. but I doubt very much that a common phrase like that can be trademarked in the first place…;)

  4. Lynn says:

    I apologize, I probably went overboard in this comment. I am involved in a legal dispute with Beliefnet who has someone else writing my blog which they carried for a number of years and they have claimed the trademark. As a result I have in fact trademarked Astrological Musings so that there is no confusion. Being caught up in this legality I have been on a bit of a rampage but my comments were ill-placed here. So again, I apologize for creating any disturbance.

    • Thanks, Lynn, for the clarification. Your initial comment makes more sense in this context. Again, I have no intention of infringing on your rights as an author and what I have seen so far of your site looks quite interesting. All the best in your dispute with Beliefnet. I have come across sites that have posted copyrighted material which I have written without even acknowledging that I was the author.

  5. Jenny B says:

    The trademark has been applied for, but not granted, and there are so many other web sites that use that phrase that it may not be granted. Unless the would-be trademarker can show proof of use with the TM before the other sites used it, it probably isn’t doable. Anyone can put TM after a phrase to show intent of trademarking, but only the registered TM with the circle which you can use after the trademark office grants the trademark is meaningful.

    We have a trademark for our business so we had to read up on this. Since the stated use is for a web log, the fact other web logs use the same phrase makes it tough to support.

  6. Cassy Hepp says:

    Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscopes that claim to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun, moon, and other planetary objects at the time of their birth. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations.-

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