You'll Never Guess Which Portmanteau Everyone Is Suddenly Trying To Trademark
from the actually-you-probably-will dept
It had to happen. There was no avoiding it. It’s quite common for individuals, and sometimes even businesses, to surf the wave of a popular news cycle and attempt to translate some story into a trademark to exploit. A good percentage of the time, this is done as something of a short-term squatting attempt, where some word or phrase becomes suddenly popular and someone races to trademark it in order to license or sell it to another entity. Other times, it’s simply done to capitalize on the sudden popularity of a word or phrase directly.
You already know where this is going. Yes, the “Brexit” trademarks are starting to pour in, almost literally in the case of Sam Adams Boston Lager maker Boston Beer.
The Boston Beer, the maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, is seeking to trademark “Brexit” as a name of a hard cider. A patent attorney from Houston has also filed an application to register “Texit,” a term coined as the Texas version of Brexit. That application covers hunting apparel, T-shirts and baseball caps.
Yes, as the world reacts to Britain riding a wave of false-promises and barely-disguised tribalism towards an EU exit stage-right-into-an-economic-freefall, American companies are swiftly trying to lock up the word-mash used to describe this exodus for their own stupid business purposes. And, based on the findings of Alex Montgomery, it appears these applications were filed even as the results of the vote were in doubt.
On June 24th, as the world was contemplating the consequences of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, others were filing applications to register the term as a trademark. One of those entities was the Boston Beer Company (the owner of the Sam Adams trademark). Applications to register BREXIT as a trademark were also filed on June 24th by an individual in Chicago in Class 025 for clothing and by a company in Colorado inClass 005 for dietary and nutritional supplements.
For Boston Beer’s proposed Brexit Hard Cider, the details for the rollout of this drink appears to elude even those within the brewery.
A Boston Beer spokeswoman couldn’t say exactly what the plans were for Brexit cider. She told Law Blog that the company has worked with cider makers from the U.K. and sources some apples from the country for its “Angry Orchard” line of hard cider.
That’s quite a reach to rationalize trying to trademark a suddenly popular term coming out of an international news cycle. Let’s be clear on this point: this kind of trademarking is goddamned annoying. First, it makes a mockery of what for most of us are very real and serious issues. The Brexit story is one that the entire world ought to be paying very serious attention to, because the vote was not only historic, but its consequences, whatever they are, ought to be instructive to other nations that want to use nationlism to propel this sort of agenda.
But on top of that, exactly what does any of this kind of opportunistic trademarking have to do with the purpose of trademark law? To be clear, all of these trademark applications are likely entirely legal. But that doesn’t change how at odds they are with the purpose of trademark to begin with. The idea behind trademarks is that they serve as a source-identifier for particular companies. The general idea would be to come up with a term for a brand or business, trademark it, then grow it into recognition as associated with the trademark holder. These attempts reverse the order, attempting to ride a wave of an already well-known word or term and then trying to force association with brands through trademark.
And that’s really lame.