Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube? We are and we hope you will join us. See details in the column to the left to connect with us online. If you are not on these popular social media sites, have you at least opened accounts using your brand names to prevent others from misusing them? This is a relatively new trademark issue as brands expand into social media websites. A great free tool to see if your brand names are available on many such sites is KnowEm.

Trademark Tip: Using Trademarks for Competitive Intelligence

USPTO trademark filings are public records at the USPTO of course. With some skilled searching of USPTO filings, businesses may be able to find out what type of work their competitors are doing, or what other industry trends are.

For example, does Apple have any new brand names in the works?  Apple recently filed to register IBOOKSTORE for a large range of products and services, and they also have an application seeking protection for the design of their Magic Mouse

How about well known restaurateur Todd English, might he have any new restaurants in the works? Todd English Trademarks, LLC has several recent applications, including:


What movies or other new things might be coming from Disney? Here are some “intent to use” applications it owns:

PETER PAN (film)
BAMBI (film)

What’s new in the candy business?

Perhaps a new offering from Tic Tac?  TIC TAC FANCIES
CANDYWORKS stores from Mars?
MPORIUM stores?

As you can see, quite a bit of information about possibly forthcoming brands, products, and services can be unearthed searching trademark records. The trademark record is a snapshot of the economy. While a registration or filing is not mandatory, companies that recognize the value and impact of their brands generally file early to protect new business opportunities.  This allows the public – or the competition – to get a little peek into what might be coming.

Trademarks in the News (25 years ago): Remember New Coke?

Brands are controlled and managed by humans. As a result, brands make mistakes. Remember Pepsi Clear and Crystal Pepsi? McDonald’s Arch Deluxe? Microsoft Zune? The XFL? The most notorious brand failure was probably New Coke. 25 years ago this month, after a fortune spent in research, testing and marketing, Coca-Cola unveiled a “new” formula of soda. “New Coke” was supposed to reverse the beverage giant’s declining market share in the soda wars of the 1980s. The product was launched with a press conference at Lincoln Center and workers renovating the Statue of Liberty were given the first cans to take home.

Initially, sales were OK, but a backlash soon emerged. The formula was not loved despite the testing. The new logo abandoned decades of script lettering. The media jumped all over the story. Widespread complaints from Coca-Cola’s core customers noted that they liked Coke just the way it was.

The Change to Coke Classic

Coca-Cola did not deny the backlash. In fact, they aggressively moved to un-do their error. Within 77 days it began pulling New Coke and restoring “Coke Classic®.” They came to understand that the brand and its connection with consumers was more important than any formula or test. “There is a twist to this story which will please every humanist and will probably keep Harvard professors puzzled for years,” said the company President and COO at a press conference. “The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people.”

And they embraced the decision to revert once it was made.  They didn’t hide from it.  They gave the first case of Coke Classic to one of the most outspoken purists who had formed a group to lobby for the old formula.

In the end, sales rose to numbers higher than before the release of “New Coke,” and the company’s connection with the hearts of its customers was strengthened based on the way the company responded to their outcry so quickly.

The “New Coke” disaster turned out to be the best thing for Coca-Cola. We all make mistakes. How a brand reacts to a mistake is critical. It could spell the end, or it could lead to better brands, a strong connection with customers, and more sales.

Lesson: If a branding mistake is made, recovery is possible. Don’t run and hide from the mistake – correct it and learn from it.

For more on dealing with brand mistakes, see “How to fix a brand after letting customers down” by Anthony Pappas in the Washington Business Journal.

Firm News

Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC recently released a new iPhone® application for intellectual property. The free Apptorney: IP application contains a compilation of web resources in the field of trademark, patent, and copyright. Users of Apptorney: IP can search, file or monitor the status of a trademark or patent, review relevant statutes, and keep up with popular intellectual property blogs. Apptorney:IP contains hundreds of organized links to USPTO pages, patent and trademark search pages, state and international IP resources, and statutes.

“We believe this sets a new bar for lawyer apps on the iPhone. Apptorney: IP is provides a wealth of tools used by IP attorneys every day and will bring IP attorney’s main web tools to a mobile platform,” said creator Erik Pelton. “Apptorney: IP, a free download, provides more utility than many paid legal iPhone® applications.”

Apptorney: IP for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad is available as a free download from Apple’s App Store here.

For more information, see Apptorney trademark application here.

Let us know if you like it, or if you have suggestions to make it even more useful!

Did You Know?

Trademarks are serious business. The USPTO takes in, on average, more than $500,000 in trademark filing fees every single day.


If there are any topics or issues you would like to see covered here, let us know!

This publication has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not intended to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter. Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, it may be considered advertising material.

© 2010 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC.

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