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Wilton A. Person
Wilton A. Person, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 4147
Experience:  MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
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I do not know if anyone has ever trademarked a saying that

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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 3 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 3 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 3 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.
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