Brand News: What is a Moke?

Richard Rimer

May 15, 2023

A recent news story used a word I had never heard before: Moke.  Being a lover of new words, I had to read more.  I got even more excited when I learned the story involved a trademark battle.

Apparently a “Moke” is a low-speed, open-air electric vehicle.  Two different dealers of these vehicles wanted to claim trademark rights in the Moke brand.  Of course a trademark grants you exclusive rights to use a term as a brand, so each party wanted this right.

Unfortunately, these parties both referred to their products as “Mokes,” so the relevant buyers came to know these products as “Mokes” and not as “Mokes electric vehicles.”

Genericide.  It’s happened time and time again.  Zipper, Escalator, Trampoline, Aspirin.  These are all former brands that the owners allowed to become the generic name for the item.  Now anyone can use these names, which means no one can use it exclusively.

In the case of Mokes, neither dealer can claim exclusive rights.  That means we all own the word “Moke.”  Would someone please call Merriam-Webster?

Pro tip: do NOT use your brand as a noun or verb.  Brands should be adjectives.