It appears that energy drink brands have found another way to expand or extend their reach while still getting their active ingredients into the bloodstreams of consumers. This past weekend I encountered the Amp brand, not only in the refrigerated cases of convenience stores, but also at the grocery store check-out register, side by side with other traditional chewing gum brands. Some other blogs have already reviewed Amp energy gum here and here. Apparently the new gum brand hit the streets earlier this year, as evidenced by this pending trademark application, owned by Pepsico.

The Rockstar energy drink brand, which is curiously owned by an individual named Russel G. Weiner, not some corporation or other liability-shielding entity, apparently was thinking about brand expansion all the way back in October 2005, as evidenced by this still pending intent-to-use trademark application. Other blogs already have reviewed Rockstar energy gum here and here, but they have not reported that registration of the Rockstar trademark for gum has been opposed by Take-Two Interactive Software, a video game computer software company with trademark rights in the Rockstar name as well.

Seems like a good time to remind brand owners and managers that they don’t necessarily have the automatic and unfettered right to expand their brands to new products, services, and categories. Most appreciate the importance of conducting the necessary trademark due diligence before launching a new brand, but some may overlook the need for due diligence when pursuing brand extensions, operating under the misapprehension that they own the right to put the brand on anything they want to put it on.

There are other times too, when the need to consider trademark due diligence is sometimes overlooked, so I thought I’d share a handy checklist I put together several years ago:

  1. Before adoption and first use of mark anywhere within the United States;
  2. Before extending use of mark to new products, services, or categories;
  3. Before licensing mark to others;
  4. Before modifying or modernizing mark;
  5. Before extending use of mark in new geographic areas within the United States, if no federal registration was obtained at the outset;
  6. Before use of mark outside the United States.

Back to energy brands, you may recall, I previously blogged about the Bawls energy drink brand, and the unique product packaging, complete with tactile bumps, here. I’m not sure whether Bawls is considering a brand expansion into the gum category, but doing so would be interesting from a branding perspective.

Now, if I were creative enough to help the Bawls energy drink folks expand their brand into the chewing gum category, I’d probably anticipate and be hopeful that "Gum Bawls" (my idea, not theirs) was probably clear, but I’d double check with some appropriate trademark clearance measures and, if clear, promptly follow with the filing of an intent-to-use trademark application.

Marketing types, how did I do? And, yes, I’m keeping my day job.