Question of the Week

What Legal Term-of-Art Blunders Are 'Nails on a Chalkboard' to Your Ears?

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This week, we received a comment from a reader of this post: ‘Jersey Shore’ Stars Have Trouble Trademarking their Nicknames.

“Using ‘trademark’ as a verb is generally frowned upon by IP practitioners,” the reader wrote. “In fact, it’s a nails-on-a-chalkboard kind of thing. One applies for a trademark registration. One does not ‘trademark’ something, nor do they ‘apply for a trademark.’ “

In our own defense: Trademark has a listing as a transitive verb in Merriam-Webster—and is useful in writing a lively headline.

But that got us thinking. What other common term-of-art blunders sound like nails on a chalkboard to experienced practitioners? What are some things frequently said by nonlawyers, the mainstream media, TV and movies, or even lawyers outside of your practice area that either prompt you to correct them or at least make you groan inwardly? Or, inversely, what words do you find are declared terms of art when they are simply hidebound clichés?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: What’s the Most ‘Out of Bounds’ Thing You’ve Heard a Judge Say During Proceedings?

Featured answer:

Posted by Joe: “Judge got so mad at defendant appearing late for trial that as he is about to storm off the bench after a long diatribe he tells the bailiff: ‘If he moves, shoot him.’ This is in a reported opinion in which the judge was reprimanded. Also, I prosecuted a case where the defendant complained that he was provoked by the victim, who had called him and his mother ‘white trash.’ Judge responded, without missing a beat, ‘The truth hurts, doesn’t it?’ “

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