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The Recycling of Brand Vessels?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Infringement, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks

Brand signals have been described as meaning vessels before, and vessels of trust too. Does that make a branded product package, container, or configuration a vessel within vessel?

The tin cans below that have been recycled and transformed (as seen in the image I captured at the Minnesota State Fair), were most likely once brand vessels within vessels, but now, there is no trace left to the variety of brands that once adorned these physical vessels:

RecycledTinCans

No one of sane mind would question this vendor’s legal right to strip all brand recognition from these physical vessels and give them new life as creative hanging planters.

And, it also seems unlikely anyone would question Coca-Cola’s legal right to stop a vendor who refills a branded Coke bottle with something other than Coke, passing it off as genuine Coke.

But, the recognition of truth at these two extremes, brings me back to my post that rode the holiday weekend, questioning the level of control a brand owner has in controlling its branded packaging and containers downstream:

FireballCandle

RollingRockNightLight

What do you think, are the branded candles and nightlights closer to the Coke example than the tin can example? I think very much so, notwithstanding the reference on Candles by Brandles website to “recycled bottles.

What do you think, where do you draw the line of where the brand owner loses control, if ever?

Does your answer to the question hinge on the difficulty the brand owner has created in another removing all traces of the brand from the container, i.e., removing a paper label from a tin can, or grinding a glass bottle to remove the Coca-Cola logo?

Actually, the Coca-Cola bottle is a bad example, or perhaps a great example to illustrate another point, the contour of the Coke bottle, is a trademark itself, and it cannot be ground out or removed without destroying the bottle.