In the U.S. Patent and Trademark Database, you can find all sorts of trademarks held by various institutions. Although our knowledge of anything law-related comes from “Law and Order” reruns, we perused the database nonetheless, looking for the most interesting trademarks held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Here are our interpretations of our discoveries.
H: Yes, Harvard has trademarked the letter “H” in yet another effort to distinguish Harvard affiliates from the rest of the world. Non-Harvard folks can no longer say things like “hello,” “happy,” or “hemophilia” without being hit with the force of the law. Elitism reigns on.
Harvard Community Garden: Weird move, Harvard. Trademarking a community garden, which, as its name states, belongs to... the community. Let the people cultivate their root vegetables in peace.
Veritas: Harvard has trademarked its famous crest in every iteration. And we truly mean every. You got your bibles in a triangle. Bibles in a line. “Shields or crests with figurative elements contained therein or superimposed thereon.” Pigeons get involved at one point. So your little cousin who sent you that card in the mail with a poorly drawn Harvard logo at the top? He’s in a lot of legal trouble right now. Related: Did you know that the Harvard Extension School crest features an Aladdin-style genie lamp?
Squash It: This was a registered trademark for a series of classes preportedly promoting non-violence. No word on what the content of the course was, as the trademark was cancelled in 2003, but with a logo that depicts the phrase “squash it” literally being crushed between a fist and a hand, we can only imagine it was a “fight fire with fire” type of situation.
Crimson Gourmet Coffee: This trademark has been dead since 2003, but was it ever alive? Is gourmet coffee simply a pipe dream within the walls of Harvard’s dining halls? Was palatable, affordable coffee a collective hallucination of our younger and more vulnerable years? Let’s ask HUDS. Too soon?
Pocket Mentor: The next time you venture into the stacks of Widener, don’t make a noise. Let the silence wash over you until—a voice! A tiny voice! It’s your Pocket Mentor, come to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as you slog through this essay! Keep them secret, though. Trademarked items are serious business.
Ask What You Can Do: You think this trademark refers to the familiar words of John F. Kennedy, perhaps for use in the Kennedy School of Government? Think again. This is an act preventing anyone not immediately affiliated with Harvard from asking how they can help someone. Give your mom and high school guidance counselor a call, because they might be needing a lawyer.
Hahvahd: This one is really sneaky. We always thought this slightly cringe-worthy impression of a Boston accent was the result of creative evasion of copyright infringement, since the tour company couldn’t use Harvard’s trademarked name. Wrong. Harvard owns this one, too. Apparently they just pretend to be rivals with regular Harvard tours for funsies.
Thank Your Mentor Day: Oh, you silly young grasshopper. You thought you could express gratitude without explicit permission from the President and Fellows of Harvard College? Ha.
Hi: This could refer to a software program. It could also explain the fact that since its registration in 2013 most traditional greetings have been replaced by “Suuuuuup” and “Have you started the pset yet?” Every social interaction is just an attempt to avoid a lawsuit.
And finally, here are some highlights from when we entered the term “Harvard” instead of “President and Fellows of Harvard College” into the database. You can decide for yourself what’s going on here: Grandmaster Funk; Voodoo Karma; No Sweat No Swag; Sir Growls-a-Lot; My Pet Ghost; Blue Llama; Princess Pottymouth.