Monday, July 14, 2008

Guarding Trademarks

For brand marketers, there's a good, quick briefing on the proper selection of trademarks: Read the “What’s in a Name?” article from BevNET Innovation, Issue 2, by lawyer Gregg R Sultan, here.

Long-form, though, it struck me that it’s relatively rare when information technology and copyright protection intersect. Today’s one of those days.

We’re at the dawn of what WIRED is now calling the “Petabyte Age.” That’s when there’s so much information available to us, the sheer mass of data demands what WIRED editor Chris Anderson says is an entirely different approach. He further pronounces: The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world.

Very cool thinking, yes? Except that one of the examples in the WIRED feature article is a DOD program called Essence – the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics. Though “100 megabytes of data come in every day,” the government can’t nail down the source(s) of the current salmonella outbreak that’s clobbered 1,000 people.

Big data may well become miraculous. But mistakes will still happen if your project is “untouched by human thought.” So we come back to creating and protecting a trademark and Sultan’s article. Here’re some snippets:

Businesses tend to pick names which describe a product to immediately alert the consumer to the product’s nature (e.g., “Lemon Lime Soda”)…in the long run, you probably won’t be able to distinguish your beverage from others or protect the name.

Sierra Mist for lemon-lime soda…is considered a suggestive mark because it doesn’t describe the product, but conveys the idea that it’s refreshing. Marks like these are easier to protect and enforce…

As I said up top, the entire article is concise; worth your reviewing as a “best practices” reminder. Radio Corporation of America was fine in 1919. Now, 90 years later, it wouldn’t hold up as a corporate or brand name. This is what lawyers are for in our day and age, along with creative people who understand what makes one brand name more powerful, more useful and more protectable than another.

It doesn’t matter how much data you crunch (and there are software programs that’ll invent brand name options by the thousands). Creating a great brand is a human endeavor; guarding its IP value is up to human beings every time. Every time.


Appreciation to Gregg R Sultan, Esq., for his white paper, © 2008, BevNET.com, Inc. Post art by Prism Design, Inc. Many thanks to Susan Reeves and Stacy Allen. The art is the binary (data) form of a client brand name – a free bottle of wine to the first person who identifies it.

6 comments:

Nash said...

Hey Richard -- looks like I'm the first to identify it as INEXS! Although you should know that the last character is encoded as lowercase in your design (so it reads "INEXs"). Salute!

S Reeves said...

Folk(s) are even reading the small print. 6 point type as its place in the world.

s reeves said...

Folk(s) are even reading the small print. 6-point type has its place in the world.

trancepass said...

in a name, there is an identity and values that could make a brand strong. Do you agree?

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for dropping by as always, Iqbal. Yep - there are strong associations with a brand name, positive or negative. As you correctly read, protecting the brand's positives is up to the people involved in the company...nowhere more important than a hotel property, e.g.

Nice survey of tourism on your own blog. Ta for the weekend...RLB.

Joel Sabel said...

Very nice piece on guarding trademarks. The “Petabyte Age” sounds like a fringe group protecting rabid beasts. The proliferation of data is exactly what we were tossing around in Boston this week at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Annual Conference. (Now that's a hopping bunch of guys and gals.) Our investigative work requires so much data-mining that we need software for establishing reasonable parameters and measuring the probably factors of success in our searches. Another must-have…