The hottest trends in trademarks these days are-you guessed it-terms associated with interactive media.
According to the Annual Report on Trends in Brand Names, applications in 1994 for the word "Internet" leaped 172%, to 87. "Multimedia" climbed 123% to 96. "Virtual" jumped 92% to 226, "cyber" was up 83% to 199 and "interactive" increased 66% to 199.
"Marketers have latched onto the Internet because the words create an aura about the product that it is very high-tech even though this isn't necessarily the case," said Glenn Gunderson, partner in Philadelphia law firm Dechert Price & Rhoads and the study's author.
"We've gone beyond using `cyber' and `virtual' for items associated with the Internet," Mr. Gunderson said. "Now companies are using those names for products that have nothing to do with the Internet."
Among the terms trademarked last year: "Virtual Cafe" and "Cyberspace Cafe" for restaurants and "Cyberhair" for wigs and hairpieces.
Many, however, deal with products that are associated with high-tech, such as "Virtual Boy," a Nintendo videogame and "Cyber First Union," an interactive banking system.
"Interactive terms were once associated only with high-tech computer products, but recently, marketers trying to tap into what's popular use phrases identified with the Internet so the product might be associated with the hot topic," said Bruce Baumgartner, trademark attorney and partner at Baker & Hostetler in Cleveland.