Here's a commentary from EContent magazine about trademarks, namely that of Instant Messenger from AOL. Supposedly, it's OK to use instant messenging as a verb but not as a noun.
The author says:
I'm wondering what AOL gains from this move. I understand why Xerox didn't want its name to be used willy-nilly by every copycat. I get how Kleenex wanted to be a brand that made tissues for the face and other body parts, not a generic term used even when others' products got sold. But how does it behoove AOL to trademark two words that have entered the common parlance, in a particular order, at a given time in our communication history? I can say AOL Instant Messenger and I can say Instant Messenger if I'm referring to AOL's product, but the strange part is that I can only say "instant messenger" (even with no initial caps) if I mean AIM. The company views the use of these two words in reference to a broader category as an infringement on its intellectual property.Of course, AOL would argue that the only reason "instant messenger" has entered our language is because AOL brought it.
This is like Kleenex sending out cease-and-desist orders to everyone that referred to facial tissue not as Kleenex, but as "facial tissue" itself. I mean where would that have left a company like Puffs? With snot rag? Maybe not, but would they have had to write around it with something catchy like "tissue that is used on the face or nose area"? Perhaps they would have felt compelled to coin their own term like "Paperchief."
AOL is responsible for Instant Messenger. Kleenex was never resonsible for Facial Tissue.
I'm not big on crazy trademark rules and cease-and-desist orders. But this one seems pretty simple.