–Sharon Armstrong, Attorney

Trademark attorneys often counsel their clients to file trademark applications with the broadest scope of goods and services possible (e.g., broad categories of goods without any trade channel limitations). The main reason for this is to provide clients with the broadest scope of trademark insulation on the registry. Filing for ELVISWARE for “tableware” rather than “glassware featuring pictures of Elvis” may prevent third parties who desire to register a similar mark for related but not necessarily identical goods and services (say, ELVISWARES for table linens). If the Trademark Office finds the identification to be too broad or unclear, it will simply issue an office action to require further clarification or specificity.

Filing with a broad scope of goods and services has other benefits too, such as providing a little mystery as to the precise nature of your goods and services. A fun example is related to the recent video teaser from Neill Blomkamp, the director of the film District 9, which was nominated for a best picture at last year’s Oscars. As the website Slashfilm notes, “the video…features two young men who discover a dead alien-looking creature in a puddle on the side of a dirt road. The creature has a circular stamp on its side which reads ’18.12 AGM Heartland Pat Pend USA’ and the outer circle reads: ‘US Inspected and Approved.’”

More after the jump…

Peter Sciretta, the author of the piece on Slashfilm, asks “Could this be a viral teaser trailer for Blomkamp’s next project?” Given that teaser trailers are used to build buzz and anticipation for films long before they are released, teasers are generally designed to grab audiences and elicit a desire for more, without giving too much away. However, it seems that in this case, the backers of Mr. Blomkamp’s project may have done just that. Mr. Sciretta, the Slashfilm writer, notes in his article that in trying to find out more about the project, he came across a trademark application filing for AGM HEARTLAND, for “Entertainment services by way of an online website with video, audio and textual content and images featuring characters and storylines about a fictional genetic engineering company that produces genetically engineered and altered organisms.” Mr. Sciretta notes that the limitation of the application to “online and not theatrical or television” may mean that the teaser is not for a film project. While it’s unlikely that the owner of the AGM HEARTLAND application would have expected non-trademark types to search the trademark database for this information, it just goes to show that even a trademark application can fuel the flames of speculation.