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  • French Village Turns To President For Help In Trademark BattleWed, 04/23/2014 - 20:00

    Known to the world for its knives, the French village of Laguiole recently sought the assistance of president Francois Hollande after losing a trademark battle in court.

    The “Laguiole” name has been owned by businessman Gilbert Szajner since 1993, when he registered it as a trademark. He then started marketing various products under the name – from corkscrews and table linen, to barbecues. Some of the products bearing the Laguiole name, however, are made in China, which has enraged the town’s residents who feel robbed of their identity.

    The villagers were unable to get the French courts to annul the trademark in 2012, and they have since lost an appeal as well. This month, the French appeal court decided it is acceptable for companies to use family and geographical names as trademarks, ruling that the company has not dealt a blow to the image or reputation of the village of Laguiole, The Guardian reported.

    According to the court’s ruling, village residents cannot sell goods stamped with the name of Laguiole except for knives decorated with the famous bee logo. The trademark’s owner can continue to sell the rights to use the Laguiole name to both French and foreign companies who express an interest.

    The mayor of the village, Vincent Alazard, called the situation surreal, saying that businesses putting the name of Lagiuole on items other than knives could now be accused of counterfeiting products manufactured in Asia. In a last attempt to return the name to the village, the mayor has sent the president a letter asking for help, The Local reports.

    Do you think the Laguiole trademark is harming the village’s image and its citizens’ reputation?

  • Pizza Hut Crowned Best Social Brand By UK Young ConsumersTue, 04/22/2014 - 19:00

    Pizza Hut is the brand considered most capable of building and maintaining relationships with young consumers in the United Kingdom on social media platforms, the Social Brands 100 Youth Ranking from social brand agency Headstream shows, as reported by The Drum.

    Greggs, Play.com, Waterstone’s, and Krispy Kreme were the other four brands ranked in the top five. Others in the top 10 included Pepsi Max, Comic Relief, Warburtons, Starbucks, and McCain. These all polled ahead of Amazon, YouTube, and Google, which were ranked among the top 100 brands on social media.

    Headstream’s ranking, which was created following a review of the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles of brands that are most popular with users age 18-24, revealed younger consumers love brands that deliver relevant and honest content. Users want to build relationships with brands that understand their needs, interests, values, and behaviors, and develop their content based on these considerations, says Steve Sponder, managing director of Headstream.

    Sponder explained the failure of Amazon, YouTube, and Google to win the hearts of young consumers with the “important and relevant” role they already play in their everyday lives. Although these three brands enable a social presence for most of the brands ranked within the top 100, they themselves are not considered brands that provide an outstanding social experience, he said.

    Despite being ranked sixth overall by users, Pepsi Max was the most successful brand on Facebook alone, where content is a key prerequisite for strong user engagement. WHSmith was the best performing brand on Twitter, which was credited for the broadcasts to its followers and its customer service, while Greggs came first on Google+.

    What’s your top social brand?

  • Superhero Dispute Puts Joint Trademark Ownership Under The SpotlightFri, 04/18/2014 - 19:00

    DC Comics and Marvel made headlines this week after British author Graham Jules accused the two publishers of banning the use of the word “superhero” by opposing his attempt to trademark the title of his book, ‘Business Zero to Superhero.’ While the case is nothing more than a pure trademark wrangle, it draws attention to the issue of the joint ownership of trademarks, the World Trademark Review (WTR) suggests in a blog post.

    The two comic book publishers jointly obtained trademark rights for the words SUPER HERO and SUPER HEROES in 1979, before renewing the marks in 2006. The issue has put Jules in a position he described as “fighting or scrapping the entire book” in a press statement released last week.

    Although the dispute has grabbed the public’s attention, as it pitches two globally successful companies against a smaller, independent one, the less frequent occurrence of joint-owner trademarks is also worth noting.

    David Weild of Edwards Wildman Palmer noted to WTR that conceptually the phrase “joint trademark” is an oxymoron, because by definition a trademark indicates a single source., Robert Cumbow of Graham & Dunn added that a joint trademark is more of a co-existence than a co-ownership. .

    Brands wishing to follow in the footsteps of DC and Marvel are advised to pursue a co-branding agreement, rather than a jointly-owned registration, Cumbow says. If two companies want to jointly own a trademark, they should create an entity for that purpose, register the mark on its behalf, and then arrange the use of the trademark through license agreements, he says.

    Would you consider sharing a trademark with a competitor?