Is your maintenance program trademark-able?

Who owns maintenance?

I don't just mean in your facility or throughout your organization. I'm talking full-on ownership. Who holds a live registered trademark on it?

It's a valid enough question, and one that you might want to consider. As a member of the media, we are free to use all sorts of phrases in our content that may or may not be trademarked. But if, for example, you’re putting together a company-wide program with all sorts of promotional materials, and maybe even an incentive program, and you have a great name for the program that is sure to get all of your employees on board and fully motivated to make the initiative a big success, you might want to make sure you're not opening your company to a possible lawsuit by using a term that's a registered trademark.

If one of your plants is in the United States, you might want to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov), an agency of the Dept. of Commerce. Its Trademark Electronic Search System (http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4008:idimng.1.1) will allow you to check on terms to see if your idea is free and clear or if you might be violating a registered trademark.

You might be surprised by the number of maintenance terms you'll find on the list.

Maintenance Manager

Maintenance Matters

Maintenance Blackbelt

Maintenance One

Maintenance Power

Maintenance in Motion

Certified Maintenance

Applied Maintenance

Lean Predictive Maintenance

These are just a few of the terms you'll find on the list. "Predictive Maintenance Management" once was a live registered trademark, but it's now dead.

Whether it's a maintenance initiative, a reliability program, a productivity-optimization goal, or an incentive-based safety schedule, you might be wise to see what's fair game before you start.