Ramona Hazan’s vegan and gluten-free MeToo! hummus hasn’t been flying off the shelves recently, due to an unfortunate coincidence. After all, ‘me too’ tends to remind shoppers of viral hashtags telling horrifying stories of sexual harassment, instead of the catchy brandname it once was fourteen years ago.
At first, Hazan thought she could capitalize on the global attention, telling the Guardian she was considering marketing it as “‘MeToo! For #MeToo’” but ultimately deciding she didn’t want use the global movement for personal gain.
This isn’t the first time the phrase ‘me too,’ created by Tarana Burke in 2006, ran into legal troubles. Companies like Hard Candy and Fuzzy Logic LLC, looking to co-opt the movement for financial reasons, have been trying to trademark the phrase since 2017, when MeToo became a household name.
But as Ramona Hazan knows, popular phrases aren’t so easily trademarked. Trademark applications for “nevertheless, she persisted,” and “covfefe” have all been rejected. As the US trademark office wrote, “The more commonly a term or slogan is used in everyday speech, the less likely the public will use it to identify only one source and the less likely the term or slogan will be recognized by purchasers as a trademark or service mark.”
So what will MeToo hummus go by now? Hazan is still deciding.
Shira Feder is a writer. She’s available at firstname.lastname@example.org and @shirafeder