Let’s see whether the headline for this entry gets me in trouble with Entrepreneur Media. Because according to a piece in Thursday’s NY Times, Entrepreneur Media, the company that publishes Entrepreneur magazine, is darn proprietary about the word “entrepreneur”.
Apparently the publisher’s lawyers have stopped one fellow from calling his company EntrepreneurPR, and also stopped him from calling a periodical “Entrepreneur Illustrated”. Similarly, Entrepreneur Media’s lawyers hunted down and dropped a cease & desist on “Publishing Entrepreneur”, another magazine. The intrepid lawyers for EM even tried to keep Ernst & Young from issuing the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Magazine in conjunction with E&Y’s annual awards program.
While this is all hard to believe, the Times does rightly point out that many surprising things are defensible trademarks. And while it might seem bizarre that EM has registered “entrepreneur” for any use involving books, media, and the like, all the way out to software, that is precisely what EM has done.
It is, of course, bizarre and largely indefensible, right up there with registering “business” or “money”. But then again, it is also true that the word entrepreneur is in much more common usage now than it was in 1985 when Entrepreneur Media claimed it. While I haven’t done a Lexis search, I bet that would be the result if anyone wants to spend the time.
Does that mean that “entrepreneur” has joined yo-yo and trampoline as words that were once proprietary and are now generic? You would think so, but for now let’s just see what happens if now and then I publicly mull calling this site “Entrepreneurial Greed”.