In Chapter 8 of Essentials of Marketing we talk about the value branding provides to a company and how they protect those brands with trademarks. The USA Today recently ran the article, “What’s the story behind Apple’s logo, and those of Amazon, Starbucks and other companies?” The article opens with the video embedded here and then goes on to talk about some of the earliest logos used along with some history and backstories on the logos used by many large companies today including Amazon, FedEx, AT&T and more. It covers some hidden secrets students might not be aware of. For instance, did they know that the smile in the Amazon logo connects the “A” and “z” together signifying Amazon’s ability to provide everything from A-Z? Did they know there is a hidden arrow in the FedEx logo symbolizing the company’s logistics speed and accuracy? In 2007 Baskin-Robbins decided they needed to overhaul their logo to become more current but that meant throwing out the “31 flavors” identity they had built over the past 50 years. Their solution – hide the “31” in the “BR” of their new logo. How about the significance of the peacock in the NBC logo or the significance of the number of feathers in that logo? The article is a fun read and will certainly surprise students with the depth of thought and meaning behind some of the iconic logos that we know today.
In case you missed it, McDonald’s lost it’s Big Mac trademark protection in the EU. The ruling was based on the EUIPO’s ruling that McDonald’s had not demonstrate genuine use of the trademark within the EU. That itself can be a great discussion when you cover brands and brand protection in class. However, Burger King in Sweden decided to take advantage of the situation by releasing a menu of “not Big Macs”. Burger King has a history of edgy marketing campaigns and it looks like the most recent is poking fun at their competitor’s recent misfortune.
Trademarks can be tricky. When companies spend millions to build and maintain a brand they want to make sure that brand is protected. One way to get that protection is to file for a trademark. However, the extent of that protection and even whether the trademark will be granted can be complicated. Can I trademark a common word like “banana”? Possibly. Realize that “Apple” is trademarked. How different do trademarks need to be to be protected? That’s the subject of this GameZone article, “Activision fighting dog poop cleaning service named ‘Call of DooDee’“. Activision, publisher of the popular video game “Call of Duty”, sees this dog poop cleaning service as a threat to their trademark.
Should the trademark, “Call of DooDee” be granted or denied? It’s certainly not identical but is close enough to create a potential associate and thereby degrade Activision’s trademark. When filing for a trademark you must also specify the markets you want the trademark to be protected in. That could play a role in how a dispute like this could be resolved. In this particular case it looks as if the trademark request may be abandoned but it does illustrate the importance of filing trademarks as well as the importance of doing a search before trying to build your own brand.