Talking tech since 2003

When discussing data storage solutions for individuals, flash-drives are often one of the most efficient and frequently used options.  Students, business people, technicians, and individuals alike use flash-drives because of the rapid data transfer rates and overall durability; a trait that is attributed to the device’s use of flash memory as opposed to typical “disk” solutions.  However, because of the shape and size of typical flash-drive designs, many people have referenced them as “thumb drives” from the get-go.

Recently, Singapore based Trek 2000 hit a major legal milestone by having their argument that “ThumbDrive” is a proprietary, non-generic term, upheld by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  In basic, this ruling means that the term “ThumbDrive” is now recognized as a trademark of Trek 2000.  Moreover, this ruling makes Trek 2000 the only company in the world that is able to produce and sell flash-drives under the “ThumbDrive” name.

To many people, myself included, this ruling truly comes as a shock because “thumb drive” always seemed like a very generic term.  After all, many of us have been using the term for years.

However, as sudden as this trademark may seem, it is important to realize that Trek 2000 has been dealing extensively with the production, marketing, and sale of flash-drives since the year 2000, and has been working towards getting the trademark since 2007.  With this in mind, it is important to realize that Trek has a legitimate and reasonable use for the trademark, and is not simply “squatting” it.

Additionally, one must also fully evaluate the Lexar Media’s trademark of the “JumpDrive” name before formulating an opinion on this topic.  Having said this, many people tend to refer to non-Lexar flash-drives as “JumpDrives” simply because it is a simple term that many people are familiar with; despite the fact that the term “JumpDrive” belongs to Lexar.  In my mind, the “JumpDrive” trademark further justifies Trek’s trademarking of the “ThumbDrive” name, as both companies have been highly involved in development and have long since coined their respective names.

At the end of the day, I feel that this recent trademark is completely reasonable – especially in comparison to some of the other trademarks that have been approved recently, most notably that of the word “face” by the social networking website Facebook.  I am a bit curious though as to how the trademarking process will go, as I would imagine that there are other companies that have already marketed their products as “thumb drives.”  More importantly, in a society where cloud computing is the new and upcoming trend, I truly have to question why Trek put forth the effort and resources to trademark a term that will likely be of little significance in the future.

What are your thoughts on the trademark?  Do you think that it’s fair?  Do you think it’s significant?  Let us know in the comments!

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