We’re not talking about Phantom of the Opera, and we’re not talking about the kind of phantom trademark issue discussed by Sharon in her compelling What is Maker’s Mark’s Mark? post from April of this year. No, we’re talking today, on this day for celebration, and on this wonderful 4th of July, about a Phantom trademark and brand that apparently has been around for more than twenty years in connection with fireworks.
Phantom, by the way, strikes me as a nice arbitrary trademark for fireworks, probably landing it on the inherently distinctive side of the Specter, I mean, Spectrum of Distinctiveness. With respect to scope of rights, note how it coexists on the federal trademark register in Int’l Class 13 with other identical third-party Phantom marks for airguns and center fire cartridges.
After seeing the above billboard advertisement, I’m left wondering, with my tongue in my cheek, whether there also could be a suggestive quality to the meaning of the mark? Why? One meaning of "phantom" is an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion. Here me out.
This billboard advertisement is currently located on I-94 E, just prior to approaching downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, but there are no physical brick and mortar locations, nor any businesses of material substance, at least for Phantom Fireworks in Minnesota, given the elevated class of fireworks they sell. That’s right, you need to cross the St. Croix River and enter Wisconsin to find Phantom Fireworks, conveniently located in Roberts, Wisconsin.
Note how the billboard sign doesn’t tell you that you need to enter Wisconsin to buy fireworks at Phantom Fireworks, despite the advertising in Minneapolis — the sign simply refers to Exit 10 on I-94 E. I’m guessing there must be some Minnesota law in place that caused the cryptic reference to location, one that regulates the advertising in Minnesota of fireworks that are illegal in Minnesota.
One other thought and question for the day, which do you suppose is more valuable, the inherently distinctive Phantom trademark and brand, or the generic fireworks.com domain?
Have a great 4th of July!