It’s that time of year again. The fishing opener in Minnesota is upon us this coming Saturday, so Rapala is sporting its new billboard advertisement.

Judging from USPTO trademark filings, it looks like the cutesy “Bass Friends Forever” tagline is intended to adorn clothing items too.

You will recall that we have consistently covered various iterations of the Rapala billboard ads over the last five years:

Despite the annual rotation of taglines (nicely creating yearly anticipation), there is a very consistent look to the billboard ads, with the Google-like clean white background, the contrasting red-colored Rapala logo, the eye-popping black-colored words for the new season, and finally the same artificial lure positioned top and center. This consistent use leaves me wondering about non-traditional trademark protection for the particular lure, not knowing whether it is unique to Rapala or a generic, functional, public domain lure design. Anyone, anyone?

As it turns out, while I suppose it is possible Rapala enjoys design patent protection for the repetitively seen lure, there are currently no trademark filings to cover it, which is particularly interesting as Rapala does have a few federal trademark registrations for some other fishing lure configurations (that it appears to have acquired from Blue Fox Tackle Company):








Are there any hardcore fishers of men and women who might be able to explain why these product configurations are more important to protect than the one appearing on billboard ads — almost as a non-verbal company signature?