March 18, 2011
One of the oldest conflicts in the world of product naming and branding was finally resolved last year when the Beatles gave permission for iTunes to sell their music.
This brought an end to a dispute that has gone on for decades between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps, the Beatles music label.
The actual legal sparring between the two companies ended four years ago, but now Apple is filing to take over the Granny Smith apple logo that every Beatles fan knows so well.
Patently Apple has found filings for 14 international trademark classifications in areas like "computer hardware, online social networking services, mobile phones, musical instruments, games, clothing/headgear, advertising, education and broadcasting." This transferal of the famous logo was part of the 2007 settlement between the two companies, but obviously Apple Inc. wanted to wait until the music was available for their use before going through the process of filing and protecting it. This is, in effect, just tying up loose ends.
This is partly due to Apple's notorious thoroughness in protecting its trademarks, but also makes me wonder when we will see this logo.
Surely Apple won't just use it on iTunes? It is doubtful that the Apple logo we all know and love will change, but I have to wonder if this might make its way into other offerings.
I, for one, am excited by this development because I am eager to see the logo make a comeback.
I am not going to call this a "zombie brand" because online music is really where it is at for the Beatles, and Apple Inc. is a far better home for the logo than on some shelf in England.
June 7, 2010
Here's some insight into how I spend my mornings.
Those who have children or deal with children all know the ubiquitous "sippy cup." This is an ingenious cup that cannot be spilled, even if the toddlr hangs it upside down. It's sort of the happy medium between a bottle and a real cup, and it has valves inside it that are difficult to clean.
Still, sippy, irks me. Surely it is trademarked? Nope. The inventor of the sippy cup, Richard Belanger, sold the license to Playtex, who went on to produce the often copied cup under the name "Sipster."
Now, Gummi Bears are also quite well known. That name comes from the German Gummibär or "little rubber bear" made by The Haribo Company in Germany. Disney even has a children's series, The Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
So how can Sippy Stuff use the Gummi name? Probably because its a word in common usage--although technically the company is technically calling their stickers "rubber stickers."
Still, I would be very careful if I was the head of Sippy Stuff. Sippy and Gummi are words that are pretty well known, and pretty well associated with their respective product categories.
Possibly Playtex will not mind seeing somebody create products that help them sell more Sipsters, just like Apple lets so many products start with an "i". But what will the Gummi folks think?
May 18, 2010
Joab Jackson of PC World wrote an article yesterday regarding the CA, Inc. company name. to CA Technologies.
As you may know, previously the company was known as Computer Associates. But was forced to change their name to distance themselves from the bad press they had been receiving. CEO Sanjay Kumar had just pleaded guilty to fraud charges, and the company wanted to show the public that it was ready to move on.
Jackson contacted Strategic Name Development to get a perspective on company name changes, especially on a CA, Inc. who has changed its name three times in the past five years.
I think CA, Inc. runs the risk of becoming the, "Larry King of company name changes." King has been married to seven different women, and CA Technologies looks to be going down the same trail.
To make matters worse for the company, The Channel Register even surmises that the company will always have to carry the parenthetical moniker, "Formerly Computer Associates."
It will be interesting to see how CA Technologies introduces the new name, and where the company goes in the future.
I have already posted my thoughts on Starbucks' move to revamp and repurpose the Seattle's Best™ brand name. Their new initiative, however, has me scratching my head.
They are offering us flavored coffee in the supermarkets via their "Natural Fusions" line, and, amazingly, the Starbucks brand name will be front and center.
Sixty percent of Starbucks customers buy the flavored stuff, and eighty percent of American coffee drinkers buy flavored coffees, so this is a great way to reach a bigger market. It is also a shot across the bow of Maxwell House and Folgers.
The flavored coffee market is a $265 million business, and Starbucks will offer Vanilla, Caramel and Cinnamon flavors.
The only thing is that flavored coffee is to real brewed coffee as, say, the canned mixed drinks sector are to single malt scotch. This is a move that is "way down market" as 24/7 puts it. They go on to say that:
The Seattle's Best move can be defended because it does not carry the Starbucks name and the parent company can wall off the effects that the new product will have on the Starbucks image. The new flavored coffees carry the Starbucks brand, a sign to both the investment community and consumers that the firm is willing to risk sales at its flagship retail stores in the hopes that it could quickly pick up market share and profits in the grocery store business.Other bloggers are not as circumspect: Sandbox tells us this is the turning point for the company.
They compare Starbucks coffee to "Boardwalk" on the monopoly board and flavored coffee to the low-end, "Mediterranean Avenue." Saying, "It doesn't matter if you're making the premium quality product. You could make the best quality, gourmet, all-natural, organic, fried pork rinds in the world, but, you're still selling fried pork rinds."
I just cannot understand why Starbucks did not put the Seattle's Best brand name on this new coffee.
Needless to say, I am surprised by this move.
May 7, 2010
Apple has granted AT&T an extension of its iPhone exclusivity agreement in a "Faustian" bargain that sees AT&T providing "low-cost and truly unlimited data plans for the iPad."
If it's in the stars, Verizon could be getting access to the iPhone in 2011.
Last month I wrote about AT&T's decision to drop its name from its logo. This is a part of the company's attempt to become a "lifestyle company," and its new tagline, "Rethink Possible," really reflects this.
This movement to a "lifestyle company" like Apple, seems to be exactly what AT&T has been up to as it faces the possibility of losing its exclusive agreement with Apple to carry the iPhone. Is it a coincidence that this change happens now? I doubt it.
I also think its recent decision to finally rename it's Hulu-esque video portal with the somewhat strange name U-verse online is part of the company's relentless attempt to look less stodgy and more hip. AT&T's TV Everywhere strategy is one that is close to the hearts of Apple enthusiasts, and Apple is everything to AT&T.
Some think the U-verse name is a "placeholder" while AT&T finds a way to repurpose its video site. Right now, not much has changed for AT&T Entertainment users since AT&T launched it last year.
AT&T seems to be paying attention to naming and branding now because the entire industry is reinventing itself.
Already, the wireless industry is radically changing in ways that are hard to fathom. As Marketing Review says,
"A few examples are Sprint working with Ford to put the Internet on the dashboard. Or AT&T working with power companies to read meters wirelessly, saving money on meter readers. There are many examples. Suddenly the marketplace is different with new competition from many companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox."Or Verizon, which really must be a bane of AT&T's existence, having recently received higher ranking than AT&T in terms of brand ranking.
Half of Verizon's users want an iPhone and would switch if their carrier offered it.
The problem AT&T faces is one that I have written about before, and it's a brand name issue. People who use iPhones need to be educated about their carrier. If AT&T Mobility loses that exclusive agreement at the end of the year, they are in deep trouble.
Too many Apple users are going to look for a fresher, younger, trendy brand name, like Verizon, just for the sake of it. Another segment of them will fall away because so many iPhone users are fed up with AT&T's coverage.
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