Tag Archives: fantasy

High Fantasy Tropes as Trademarks

It’s rare that someone hasn’t enjoyed some of the writings or fictional worlds of some of the great fantasy authors, like J. R. R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and many more, even including the rare writer who does not use their initials as a part of their name. Let’s look to see how some of the most common tropes from “high” fantasy fiction have turned into brand names.

As it turns out, the frequency with which book authors use each of these terms, as tracked by Google Books N-Gram analysis, is very similar to the frequency with which those terms are using a trademark. On the trademark side, looked at these terms just as stand-alone words; doubtless, there are some additional uses as a part of compound or unitary marks consisting of two or more conjoined terms, but this suffices to show general trends.

Dragon and wizard led the way in both N-Gram use and trademark filings, perhaps not surprisingly. The only exceptions to the order of N-Gram usage were “dwarf,” which was underrepresented in trademark filings (perhaps out of deference to those with achondroplasia or similar conditions), and “hobbit,” which was overrepresented because The Saul Zaentz Company, which acquired some Lord of the Rings-related rights in connection with a 1978 animated film, owns a bunch (in fact, every single active registration or application for that mark) of filings in the US in connection with merchandising deals.

Term Pending Registered Dead N-Gram
DRAGON 291 849 1772 .00060%
WIZARD 84 434 1530 .00035%
DWARF 6 21 44 .00032%
ELF 34 120 257 .00010%
GOBLIN 5 21 40 .00005%
MAGE 3 19 56 .00005%
TROLL 9 47 192 .00005%
ORC 3 25 30 .00001%
HOBBIT 3 51* 66 .00001%