Legal Blog

Saturday Side Hustle: Trademarks

Last week I got you thinking (hopefully) about the name of your Saturday Side Hustle and about building your brand. I personally think putting together a “brand strategy” is one of the most enjoyable tasks associated with building a business, especially in the food and beverage space.

Naturally, the first thing to do is produce the best possible products so consumers will associate your brand name with high quality (Shakespeare’s quote about roses applies equally in the other direction to things that do not smell sweet). I will argue, however, that compelling your target market to take an interest in your offerings and making it easy for them to identify your products once they have sampled or purchased them is just as important. A big piece of this involves developing a portfolio of those assets known as “trademarks”.

For those of you who already understand trademarks, bear with me, but I have had a surprising number of inquiries from people in my practice about how to “copyright” a product or business name. What they are really asking is how to establish or register a trademark, which is a name or logo, or even a color, sound or scent that is used in connection with goods or services to allow consumers to easily identify the source of those goods or services. (In the case of services, the term “service mark” is also used, but for this discussion, we will use the term “trademark” to refer to marks that indicate the source of either goods or services.)

In the food industry, trademarks are incredibly important at the company level and the product level, so I thought it would be fun to list a few of the most famous food and beverage industry brand names and how they were created.

Sara Lee® and Captain Morgan® are both real people, Sara being the daughter of the brand’s creator, Captain Morgan being a 17th-century swashbuckler who spent a lot of time raiding Caribbean islands (where they make lots of rum) for the British. Betty Crocker® and Aunt Jemima® are both names of people, but neither one is real. Taking it a step further, the Starbuck character from Moby Dick really liked coffee, hence Starbucks®.

Coca-Cola® – probably the most famous beverage brand ever – was named after its ingredients: extracts from coca leaves and kola nuts. Other famous brands named after their ingredients or some variant thereof include Snapple® (refers to spice and apple) and Zevia® (zero calories, containing stevia).
Some names are completely arbitrary or even made-up. These tend to be viewed as the marks with the greatest potential strength (more on that later). A great example is Pringles®, which according to my sources (the Internet) were named when the people trying to come up with a name for their product were at their wits’ end and threw a metaphorical dart at a phone book that landed on the name “Pringle”.

I’ll continue this discussion next week. Fun!

 

For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Lloyd at slloyd@offitkurman.com.

 

 

ABOUT SCOTT LLOYD

slloyd@offitkurman.com | 301.575.0357

Scott Lloyd is a registered patent attorney who specializes in intellectual property counseling and commercialization work. He has served as a technology commercialization specialist and advisor to companies in a diverse array of markets, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, technology and engineering. In addition, Mr. Lloyd spent ten years as in-house general counsel to small and mid-sized companies, where he managed corporate matters and resolved commercial disputes in addition to intellectual property strategy, and now serves in the same capacity for entrepreneurial clients. He serves as counsel to small and mid-sized business owners seeking to implement growth strategies and succession plans.

While in house, Mr. Lloyd has also contributed to the successful formation of international affiliates of domestic businesses as well as a $400,000,000 business acquisition.

 

 

ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN

Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 180 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our twelve offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

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