Another question about trade marks

Near my house there is a billboard advertising Comcast cable modem. It reads

What does it mean to trademark the words “faster” and “slower” in this context? Can no other ISP use those terms to describe their service without violating Comcasts’ trademark?

I think it’s a joke, the idea being that the competitors’ product (DSL) is slower. I’m having a hard time putting it into words, but that’s my take on it.

OK, I grok that cable modem is telling DSL that there are still other, slower, options available. But are you suggesting that the little [SUP]TM[/SUP] symbol on the two words is part of the joke?

It has to be. It doesn’t make any sense to say that the (un-trademarked) word “slower” is still available, as though they could have a monopoly on the word itself. (It’s obviously not a great joke as it is, but who know how the minds of marketers work?)

BTW, a quick search of the USPTO database indicates that “Faster” is not registered to Comcast. Only two companies now hold a live trademark on the word “Faster,” neither of them Comcast. However, if the mark is still pending (which is possible, considering the use of [sup]TM[/sup], as opposed to ®) it might not show up in that search.

And before anyone asks, here’s Trademark 101:
[ul][sup]TM[/sup] is properly used before the USPTO has granted the mark; ® is used after, to indicate it is registered.
[li]Multiple companies can hold a trademark on the same word or phrase if they are in different areas of business and aren’t likely to be confused with one another. [/li]Unlike other forms of intellectual property, like copyright and patents, trademarks do not expire, and remain the property of the holder as long as they are actively used in business.[/ul]

The TM is a part of the joke because they’re joking that they’re going to trademark “Faster” since they’re the first ones to have such a service. It’d be like if a restaurant advertised

Well, thats just not very funny at all. I’m sticking with my slow[SUP]TM[/SUP] DSL, I guess.