So, Insomniac trademarked PLUR. Why it’s not that big a deal

Yesterday, EDM Twitter discovered that Insomniac Events had placed an application to trademark PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect).

“This made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

There’s already a petition to ensure PLUR remains “public domain.”

“Due to the widespread use of PLUR, there there should be no legal ownership or trademark associated with it,” the petition reads. “However, some individuals and companies have attempted to claim ownership of the term, which can limit its usage and prevent others from promoting its message.”

A quick refresher on what a trademark is from the United States Patent and Trademark Office: “A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”

It continues, “A common misconception is that having a trademark means you legally own a particular word or phrase and can prevent others from using it. However, you don’t have rights to the word or phrase in general, only to how that word or phrase is used with your specific goods or services.”

In the original tweet, the word PLUR is depicted in a very specific font and style. It is the combination of the word, that particular font, that particular style, for a particular good or service that is being trademarked, nothing else.

Grant Gilmore, founder and editor-in-chief at EDM Identity, shed some more light on the situation as well, highlighting that PLUR has been trademarked numerous times already and in many different use cases. Insomniac placing a trademark on a specific use of the word in a specific font for a specific purpose does not remove the word from public domain, nor does it mean that Insomniac “owns” the word.

If you need any more reason to not go after Insomniac for this, Frankie Bones himself, the de facto creator of PLUR, gave Insomniac his blessing. “Pasquale Rotella is the absolute one and only person alive on the planet today who has done more for rave culture [than] anyone else,” he said. “So I gave my blessing.”

Moral of the story? It’s not the end of the world, nor the end of PLUR.