Product names


The analysis of product names falls into an interdisciplinary area: product names are studied not only in linguistics, but also in business administration (marketing, advertising) and in legal studies (cf. Kofi 2002: 184). Terminology varies regarding the designation of this subgroup of names. Room (1996) lists the English terms brand name, commercial name, promotional name and trade name without differentiating them semantically and mentions the term trade mark as a synonym of brand name. In contrast to the usual German terminology, he understands econym/oikonym as the “name of any settlement, including a town [...] or village [...]” (p. 35), and chrematonym as “the name of any unique cultural object of value” (p. 20). Competing equivalents for product name in German are Okonym (Platen 1997), Warenname, Chrematonym, Handelsname, Produktename and Produktname (cf. Eckkramer and Thaler 2013:14). Like Gabriel (2003: 28), Eckkramer and Thaler (2013:14) state that the terms mentioned lack accuracy. Nubling, Fahlbusch, and Heuser (2012: 266) correctly point out that, both in colloquial speech and in scientific literature, “Produktname ‘product name’, Handelsname ‘trade name’ and Markenname ‘brand name’ are [...] used largely synonymously, though with slightly different emphases” (author’s translation). They assert that onomastics has recognised the term trade name, which Eckkramer and Thaler (2013:14-15) have deemed obsolete as there is no longer a trademark act in Germany. The term trade name implies that the name is entered in a national or international register (Austrian Patent Office, German Patent and Trade Mark Office or, at EU level, Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market in Alicante, Spain). Eckkramer and Thaler (2013:15) suggest restricting use to the terms trade name and product name, where the latter should be used as a generic term for material and immaterial products, while trade names should be used exclusively for material goods. In line with Gabriel (2003), who also used the term product onomastics, the term product name will be used below to denote names of goods and services.

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