Mystery Solved! Why the BACB is so focused on their trademarks.

What’s in a name?

When Motivity was just beginning, one of the key tasks was to choose a name. While it seems like a simple task, a lot of thought and research needs to go into choosing the right name for your product or company. We explored a lot of name options before finally deciding on Motivity. We also ensured that no other ABA software product had that name, and we took steps to obtaining a copyright (or we chose not to copyright the name).

The Importance of Protection

Motivity isn’t the only company to put all this work into something as simple as a name. And when you put a lot of work into something, you need to make sure it’s protected! Case in point, in July of 2021, the BACB® added this little blurb to its newsletter:

Blurb added to the BACB® newsletter in July 2021

A quick scan of social media in behavior analyst groups might show a lot of chatter about this notification, with some saying that they wish the BACB® would focus on more important issues. But protecting their name and trademarks is very important! And not just to the BACB®, but also to you as a BCBA.

Ever wonder why we put the little “circle R” or “TM” next to a name? And what is the difference? The “circle R” means that a name has been registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office. “TM” actually doesn’t have a legal meaning and people who own a name are free to use “TM” to show that they plan to register the mark (and the Patent Office will take notice of this declared intent). Some organizations might use a small “SM” denoting a service mark. Trademarks are for products and Service Marks are for services.

Just as the Patent Office takes notice of intent to register, it also recognizes an organizations’ attempts to safeguard their names and products as the BACB® did in July. What could happen if they did not do this? Just ask the initial creators of the escalator (the Otis Company). Escalator used to be a registered name of a specific conveyor device, but due to negligence on behalf of Otis, the word “escalator” became a household name and ultimately Otis lost the ability to apply that name to their specific product. For more details on how this can happen to products, see this Business Insider article:

Shudder the Thought!

What would happen if the BACB® lost control of BCBA or BCaBA? How would we feel if anyone could call themselves a BCBA? What would that do to consumer confidence in our profession? These are just some concerns to remember when you want to print BCBA on your next t-shirt or hat.

Christy Evanko, BCBA, LBA
Subject Matter Expert