How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Wilton A. Person Your Own Question
Wilton A. Person
Wilton A. Person, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 4147
Experience:  MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
Type Your Intellectual Property Law Question Here...
Wilton A. Person is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I do not know if anyone has ever trademarked a saying that

This answer was rated:

I do not know if anyone has ever trademarked a saying that is used in recovery rooms/AA and quoted on many internet forums and sites. I did a search to find out the original copyright owner and can't find anything. It's just noted as a 12-step saying.
Good evening. My name isXXXXX and I am a licensed Illinois attorney. Assuming that you are referring to the actual language of the steps and not simply to the title, the 12 steps would probably be copyrighted by the Alcoholics Anonymous organization and not trademarked.

Instead of searching the site which relates to trademarks, you may wish to search the site using the following link below:

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Wilton,


Thank you for the quick response. It's actually a saying, not a step, so I will check the link you suggested, but I was wondering if I can trademark a saying if it is customarily said, but no one has formally indicated a copyright ownership?



You are welcome. Thanks for the clarification so you want to know if you can trademark the slogan, the 12 step program or something similar.

If so, a cursory review of the uspto shows multiple parties with live registrations using the 12 step related to some type of trademark so is seems worth exploring or hiring an experienced trademark attorney to conduct a comprehensive search of the name and the type of services or products that you plan to use the name with.

12 step alone may be too generic and not eligible for registration because of the numerous parties that use 12 step in their names.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.



I ran a copyright search and no has appeared to have copyrighted the statement, yet it's everywhere in the recovery forums! Feels a bit weird to want to formally copyright or trademark such a thing, but I'd like to if I can to mainstream the saying and further the philanthropic message. I have searched TESS and nothing came up for the saying, but I do not want to lose $275-$325 via the trademark system if there's a registration in the works, or already registered. I'm actually out self-employed and recovering from a surgery.

Thank you for your response. There is not a restriction from you starting your business and branding your message prior to risking the non-refundable registration fee but the downside of course is that if your business does well, it is possible that the name may not eligible for trademark protection if it is too generic or that another party challenges your use of the trademark because the party was using the name for the services or products prior to you. It is important to understand that another party may still have what is called a common law trademark even if the name is XXXXX XXXXX registered.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, Wilton,


Not to beat the horse much further, but how would I go about finding out if AA has a common law trademark or copyright of the statement?

You are welcome. To obtain a general idea, you could research the expression yourself on the Internet and/or print advertising in trade magazines or hire an intellectual property attorney to perform a comprehensive search on your behalf.
Wilton A. Person, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 4147
Experience: MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
Wilton A. Person and 2 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Previous | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

Meet The Experts:

  • Alex Reese

    Alex Reese


    Satisfied Customers:

    Experienced in intellectual property law
< Last | Next >
  • Alex Reese's Avatar

    Alex Reese


    Satisfied Customers:

    Experienced in intellectual property law
  • Robert McEwen, Esq.'s Avatar

    Robert McEwen, Esq.


    Satisfied Customers:

    Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
  • Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.


    Satisfied Customers:

    I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
  • Thomas Swartz's Avatar

    Thomas Swartz


    Satisfied Customers:

    Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
  • Ely's Avatar


    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    Licensed attorney in private practice.
  • Wilton A. Person's Avatar

    Wilton A. Person


    Satisfied Customers:

    MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
  • BartEsq's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:

    Juris Doctor

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions