My understanding is that trademarks afford protection when used as an adjective to represent goods or services, but they do not afford protection for generic usage of a trademarked term and only limited protection (whatever that means) for descriptive use.
One assertion is that if a company trademarked the term "influence" (or similarly spelled terms like Nfluence or influenSe), then such trademark registrations do not remove the word influence from general use. Hence, is it correct that anyone could still use the term "Influence Score" to refer to a measurement of influence even if the trademark owner uses InfluenSe® Score or Nfluence® Score? How concerned should our startup be that our use of the term "influence score" would result in a cease and desist letter that will require costly litigation to defend (or would a the courts quickly squash a C&D) regarding generic or descriptive use?
As a real-world case-in-point, the definition of "clout" includes "influence", and KLOUT is a registered trademark of Klout.com. Hence, a clout score (or a klout score) is similar to, or a type of, an influence score. If our startup has offerings that include the use of a clout score (which is a measure of one's influence or clout), how easy would it be to get any potential legal action squashed due to our generic usage (or should we budget large amounts of money for a legal defense)? Should we be concerned that use of the term "clout score" would invite a cease & desist or legal action?
Also, would your answer be any difference if the five-year contestability period has expired?