The crazy world of registered trademarks often provides some real humdingers of legally protected things.
For the most part, not knowing if you will find the registered trademark symbol next to a product, landmark or even a color won’t land you in trouble. However, if you are someone who is considering starting your own business, it’s always to good to have done your due diligence before you make anything official. The consequences of not doing so could end up being very expensive.
Here are some of the most astonishing things that are protected with a registered trademark.
The name of this practical protector and occasional stress reliever is the sole property of the company Sealed Air. Originally made as a type of wallpaper in 1957, one of the first beneficiaries of Bubble Wrap was IBM who used it to transport one of their flagship early computers.
So pay attention the next time you make a big move and need to protect your goods. You may actually be using bubble pack, air bubble packing, bubble wrapping, not Bubble Wrap.
Did you know that every Realtor is a Real Estate agent but not every Real estate agent is a Realtor?
Becoming a Realtor requires you to be a member of the National Association of Realtors which involves pledging to “a strict code of Ethics and Standards of practice” and taking an exam every 4 years to maintain your license.
Additionally, Realtors can also be brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors among other things.
Don’t you love it when you walk into your hotel suite and see that you have a Whirlpool bath? What’s that, you say? Technically, along with Hot Tub, a whirlpool bath is the generic term for what most know as the Jacuzzi.
Among the other products the company Jacuzzi make are Saunas, showers, and our favorite, swim spas, which after looking up, you will without a doubt start wishing you had in your backyard.
Although in theory Batman, The Hulk, Superman, and the rest stand up for the little guy, their lawyers don’t seem to have as much goodwill.
If anyone decides to market their service or product with the word Superhero they could find themselves in court against DC and Marvel who jointly own the term. The term received a trademark in 1979 when they joined forces to clamp down on those deemed to be profiting off the term.
What do Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, and Ping Pong have in common? They all belonged to the now-defunct famous board game maker Parker Brothers.
In the early 1900’s Ping Pong became a transatlantic craze and therefore understandably companies wanted to cash in.
When Parker Brothers acquired the rights and started to enforce them in 1920, Table Tennis became a more popular term internationally.
The term Ping-Pong is currently owned by Escalade Sports.
Hawaii, Australia, the UK all have played a part in the story of the Hula Hoop, but it was in the US that the name was given to this childhood favorite.
WHAM-O manufactured the Hula Hoop and got its USPTO registered trademark in 1958 after being approached by the Australian toy company Toltoys and it was clear they were onto a winner.
Interestingly, they didn’t have the patent initially, which lead to many knockoffs flooding the market. In it for the long run, WHAM-O eventually completed the trademarking process of the patent in 1963, when most of their competitors had fallen by the wayside as popularity had fallen off. This meant that the resurgence of popularity over the years has been good news for WHAM-O and WHAM-O alone!
“Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!”
If there is one poster boy for taking ownership of your own personal brand, it’s Michael Buffer.
With a voice that is synonymous with the sport itself, the legendary boxing announcer has made in excess of $400 million from the shrewd decision to hire a lawyer and trademark his catchphrase. On top of that, it’s believed he makes between $25-$100 thousand per fight for his 15 mins in the ring.
Not bad for someone who initially took up the job as a cheap way for him and his sons to get good seats.
Surely you must be thinking, “You can’t trademark a color?!”. But to answer to the validity of UPS’s claim, if you were put in front of 3 shades of brown and asked to choose which color we were referring to, you could probably do it.
Particularly for colors, it is necessary for a company to demonstrate that it is used to “identify and distinguish” their products or services from those of competitors.
For this reason “Pullman Brown” as it is officially known, was granted a trademark in 1998.
The Tarzan Yell
Yes, seriously. The sound you can now hear in your head is another registered trademark. When the estate of Tarzan author Edgar Wright Burrows tried to trademark there was an added twist.
In order to register a sound trademark, it must include “a concise and accurate description of the trademark.” This meant that someone had to put into words a way to describe the sound that was indisputable. Not an enviable task by any means.
On a hot summer’s day, there isn’t much better than a refreshing ice pop to cool you down. Yes, ice pop is the generic term for what most Americans would naturally call a Popsicle.
Unilever currently owns the company that was the brainchild of an 11-year-old boy from San Fransisco.
Publishing Photos Of The Eiffel Tower at Night
Saving the most unusual for last, it is illegal to publish photos of the Eiffel Tower at night time.
This stems from the intellectual property laws of the European Union. This protects the artist’s rights to their work for their life as well as 70 years after their death. The Eiffel Tower itself, built in 1923, is in the public domain however the lights were installed in 1985.
Whilst the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel who operates the landmark are unlikely to chase after tourists uploading their holiday pics onto Instagram, publication for profit will likely find you being chased for royalties.
Research, Research, Research
As you can see there almost isn’t an area of life that hasn’t been touched by registered trademarks.
But as highlighted earlier there is a clear lesson learned from these. Do all the research you can before starting a new business venture. That way you will be sure to avoid potential big problems in the long run.