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Is The Word Zombie Trademarked

Is the Word Zombie Trademarked? A Deep Dive.



23 February 20242 min read

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Is the Word Zombie Trademarked? A Deep Dive.

For many decades, the term "zombie" has been a staple in popular culture, particularly in the horror genre.

It's widely used in literature, movies, video games, and merchandise, often depicting undead creatures hungry for human flesh.

Given its widespread use, a question arises: Is the word "zombie" trademarked?

This article delves into the complexities of trademark law concerning the word "zombie," examining whether it's protected under trademark.

But first, let's explore some spooky history!

Historical and cultural origins

So, where did the whole idea of man-eating, thoughtless beings come from? Well, there are two notable origin stories:

  1. Ancient Greece: The concept of zombies, or reanimated corpses, can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where archaeologists have discovered graves filled with skeletal remains that suggest a belief in the undead.
  2. Haitian voodoo: The term "zombie" first appeared in English in the 18th century, but Haitian Voodoo culture gave the word its current meaning. In Haitian folklore, zombies were dead people reanimated by sorcerers or witches.

This concept was popularized in the West by William Seabrook's 1929 non-fiction book, which detailed the Haitian Vodou zombie and influenced the 1932 horror film "White Zombie."

Evolution in media

But what about media depictions of zombies? Where did those evolve from? Let’s explore:

  1. Early cinema: Zombies first appeared in cinema in the 1930s but were rarely used until George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968). This "zombie film of all zombie films," although it didn't use the word "zombie," is credited with popularizing the modern interpretation of zombies as flesh-eating ghouls.
  2. Romero's influence: Romero's films, including "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), continued to shape the zombie genre. Interestingly, Romero referred to his undead characters as "ghouls" in the original script of "Night of the Living Dead."

The term "zombie" is in the public domain, meaning anyone can use it.

Sometimes, however, when people refer to zombie trademarks, they're not referring to trademarking the word:

What is a “zombie trademark?”

A "zombie trademark" (also known as a dead trademark) refers to intellectual property that is no longer in use but can be revived if the original owner still has interest and the mark has residual goodwill.

Modern usage and cultural significance

Zombies remain a popular subject in horror movies, TV shows, and comics. They often serve as metaphors for societal issues or fears.

The modern zombie is often depicted as a creature lacking intelligence or soul, transformed by a virus or other supernatural means.

(Consider The Walking Dead — except in this series, they're called "walkers.")

Zombie — popularized and open to public use

The word "zombie" embodies a fascinating journey from ancient myths and Haitian folklore to a staple of modern horror and pop culture.

Its evolution reflects changing societal fears and interests, and its legal status as a public domain term allows for widespread use in various forms of media and entertainment.


Does Marvel own the rights to the word zombie?

Marvel doesn’t have the right to use the word "zombie." The term is a common word used to describe reanimated corpses in various cultures and works of fiction.

Who do writers refuse to use the word zombie?

Some writers avoid using the word "zombie" to differentiate their work from the traditional zombie genre, often seeking to create a unique or fresh perspective on the concept of reanimated beings.

Who first used the word zombie?

The first recorded use of the word "zombie" in English is attributed to poet Robert Southey in his 1819 history of Brazil, where he refers to the Brazilian folklore of the "zombi.”

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