–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Do you recognize this trademark? 

How about this one?  

Any guesses about what sources these represent?  The first is a trademark for Victorinox AG.  The second is a trademark for Wenger NA, Inc.  Do either of these remind you of anything else?  How about a Swiss Army knife?

I clearly remember receiving my first Swiss Army knife as a boy.  A couple of years ago, I was shopping for a new briefcase.  I saw one with the Wenger logo, and it caught my eye.  A tag on the bag bearing the mark read, “WENGER:  Maker of the Genuine Swiss Army Knife.”  I had a positive association with the Swiss Army brand from my youth, so I bought the bag.  The strap broke within the first year of use, which did not make a favorable impression on me.  Subsequently, I began seeing the Wenger and Victorinox marks elsewhere — luggage, watches, flashlights, shoes, clothes.  Coupled with my briefcase experience, the sheer ubiquity of these marks on goods further and further afield of knives makes me think that Swiss Army products are not very high quality products.

It could very well be that my lousy briefcase strap was an anomaly, but it could also be that the quality of Swiss Army branded goods are not particularly high.  The point is that consumers will associate their experiences with actual goods and services with particular brands and trademarks, and maybe related brands and trademarks.

A history of the Wenger and Victorinox companies can be found here.

  • This is an interesting one, but not unusual.
    Licensing can be a slippery slope without the right guidelines in place. Clarity on brand strategy and guidelines for where the brand lives and doesn’t can provide essential direction for moments when the dollars are attractive but the hidden cost of brand dilution is not fully considered.
    Brand Licensing Guidelines, for the disciplined brand manager.