Archive for July, 2009

Love it or leave it: FLIPPIN’ PIZZA trademark

Posted by ipelton on: July 31st, 2009

Does your brand name capture your business’ style? A brand name can convey one or more of many characteristcs, such as: trustworthy, young, simple, conservative, bold, sexy, new, old, fancy, rich, local, or corporate.

A new pizza place opened this summer near our offices in Falls Church, VA.  Flippin’ Pizza. The pizza is good, it really is a New York style pie, and I love the name and logo!

The logo, as seen above, features two hands replacing the ‘I’s in the word “Flippin”, and the hands are tossing pizza pie dough.  The name has attitude and a the whole brand has an attitude to match, which reinforces the “New York” style.  For example, from the web FAQ page:  “How can I tell if it’s real New York Pizza?  Easy. It’s always in your face. ”

Lesson: A trademark name and logo are part of a larger image for an entire brand or business.  And the trademark should capture that image when possible.  For Flippin’ Pizza, that image is New York attititude.  The brand name catpures it perfectly, in my opinion.  An in your face, double-entendre.  And its a fun name for kids.

Love it or Leave it? BLACK CARD trademark

Posted by ipelton on: July 29th, 2009

Have you also received solicitation in your mailbox for a new Visa BLACK CARD credit card?  It sounds fancy and exclusive right?  But it sounds more like a cheap knock off to me and a desperate copy.

Visa is now offering a “BLACK CARD” and touting its “Exclusive Benefits.”  See for details.  They have applied to register the BLACK CARD brand name as a trademark, see USPTO record here.  Is this a good attempt to create a new brand for Visa?  I think not.

The original “Black Card” belongs to American Express. And it is essentially the opposite of the Visa offer – it is actually exclusive and not publicized or advertised.  It is not promoted in hundreds of thousands of mailings asking anyone to apply for it.

American Express does not seem to own a registration for “Black Card” or for a design of a black credit card (isn’t Diners Club a black card?).  But it is arguably a famous brand nonetheless.  The black American Express card is technically called a Centurion card. According to this website, some 17,000 people have black American Express cards.

American Express Centurion card (popularly known as the “black card”): exclusive, limited audience, invitation only, benefits and privileges not available to general cardholders

Visa “Black Card”: many invitations, not very exclusive, limited benefits, NOT ORIGINAL.  And even worse, the name and concept – for a brand touted as exclusive and glamorous (“Black Card is your ultimate buying tool and delivers exclusive rewards for your luxury lifestyle”) –  clearly attempts to piggyback off the fame of the American Express Centurion version.  But by their very nature actual exclusive and glamorous offers  do not need to mass market their availability. And to be successful they should be unique offerings.

For all these reasons, the Visa BLACK CARD fails miserably as a brand.  I would gladly leave home with out it!

Lesson: Marketers cannot simple create an aura of exclusivity and uniqueness for a new brand or product.  An exclusive and unique brand will make itself and build a reputation without interference from marketers.  And borrowing directly from your competition makes a brand look unoriginal, uncreative, and desperate.

Product shape trademark example

Posted by ipelton on: July 22nd, 2009

I was pleased to see an article about clients John and Donna Taddeo in a recent issue of Entrepreneur magazine:  When Second Really is the Best.  The article discusses their entry into the high end tequila market, and their success in doing so.  

Most exciting for me was that the article prominenty featured a photograph of their unique tequila bottles (it may be hard to see in the photo, but the glas tiki figuring is a part of the bottle on the inside; for more pictures see link to website at the bottom of post):

Photo from Entrepreneur magazine - Voodoo Tiki Tequila bottles

Photo from Entrepreneur magazine - Voodoo Tiki Tequila bottles

The bottle shape is a registerer trademark! A product shape or configuration – to the extent it is not purely functional – can be a registered and protected trademark.  The Coca-Cola bottle may be the best known example.  

For the tequila bottle, the registration (U.S. Registration No. 3108259) contains the following description:

Description of Mark: The mark consists of the configuration of a bottle used as a container for tequila and containing a totem with a stylized face on it on the inside of the bottle.

The unque shape of the bottle – the tiki inside of it – provides to function to serving or storing tequila, and can distinguish Voodoo Tiki Tequila brand from competitors.  Many liquors today – Grey Goose, Crown Royal, Grand Marnier, Jaegermeister – come in distinctive bottles, and this has been a growing part of their marketing strategies for years.

For more about Voodoo Tiki Tequila, visit their website here.

Lesson: Even your packaging can be an intregal part of your brand and may be a protectable trademark asset.

EMP&A Registrations received recently

Posted by ipelton on: July 20th, 2009

Here is a sampling of some of the registrations our clients have recently received from the USPTO, so readers can see real examples of brands and marks which are being protected.  (These are all public records – click on trademark name or logo to view USPTO records.)

ORGANIZEOLOGY – for “Professional organizing services for business purposes, namely, paper management, clutter control, space planning, and closet organizing; relocation management, namely, planning and project oversight of home moving for others”

BREEDER logo – for “Hats; jackets; pants; shirts; shoes; socks; underwear”

INHIBITOR – for “industrial safety eyewear”

logo design – for “Educational services, namely, conducting informal programs in the fields of sustainable living, organic food and gardening, homesteading, the environment, and conservation, using on-line activities and interactive exhibits; on-line journals, namely, blogs featuring sustainable living, organic foods and gardening, homesteading, the environment, and conservation”

FRAICHE YOGURT – for “Restaurant and café services featuring yogurt and frozen yogurt”

STEALTH and Stoller trademark issues live on

Posted by ipelton on: July 17th, 2009

The Stealth trademark has a long, complex, and litigious history. (See below.  Apparently, it continues: an application for STEALTH used in connection with “Computers, computer monitors and laser printers” owned by “The Society for the Prevention of Trademark Abuse,” with a contact person of Leo Stoller, has been Opposed.  Last week, Best Data Products, Inc. filed this Notice of Opposition proceeding at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO.  The opposed application was actually filed more than 11 years ago, and “suspended” by the USPTO for nearly 10 years. The Society for the Prevention of Trademark Abuse was assigned rights to the trademark application by another Stoller-controlled entity, Central Mfg. Inc.  in 2007.  The Notice of Opposition’s allegation include fraud on the USPTO.

For more coverage of the long and twisted history of the STEALTH trademark rights, see:

The STEALTH trademark saga continues, will it ever end?