What are the oldest trademarks? Long before we had registration systems, trademarks were still a part of commerce. Markings were used on livestock, on construction materials, and other goods to indicate their source. Ancient Egypt and Rome used some form of trademarks, as did medieval Europe. Many other traders and cultures used them as well. They used them for the same reasons we use them today — they are extremely valuable to indicate the source and quality of a product or service, so that customers can find more of a good thing, and so that businesses can differentiate themselves from their competition.

I’m not sure what was the first known trademark in the world. If you have a guess, let me know in comments.

I got thinking about this topic during a recent visit to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. The fort there was built in the 17th century and it contains many cannons from the era. Many of these cannons – some four centuries old – have elaborate markings and designs that appear to indicate the factory or company that build them. See photos below. I found them to be beautiful!

 As for the oldest registered trademarks, see the excellent “The Trademark Blog” of Marty Schwimmer for a nice discussion.

© 2011 Erik M. Pelton. All Rights Reserved. 

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