– Draeke Weseman, Weseman Law Office, PLLC

Some folks sing in the shower. Others critique the packaging of their face cleanser.

 Garnier’s Clean+ Purifying Foam Cleanser is a good cleanser packaged in a plain-looking bottle. The bottle looks like your normal foam dispenser, and, picking it up for the first time, you would expect to pump the top and get some foam. But looks can be deceiving: Garnier’s bottle has no pump. Instead, you simply twist the top and squeeze.

Looking over the bottle, though, there is no name for this unique foam-dispensing mechanism. Garnier provides only a red elliptical shape at the top with the instruction: “squeeze bottle to foam.”

Does this seem like a missed intellectual property opportunity to you? What about a missed marketing opportunity? What if I told you that eight out of the nine reviews I found on Garnier’s website and Amazon mentioned the feature? Here are a few:

I came across this product because my roommate threw it in the trash. She does that a lot; it’s how I try a lot of beauty products. I’m guessing she couldn’t figure out how to work the pump. #notthebrightestbulb. Anyways, you squeeze the bottle, it foams, and comes out.

The bottle is tricky, maybe put some visual directions on the bottle? This is a new design to most people, as I have not seen such cleansers (or other products) where you would have to squeeze the bottle.

The foam dispenser is genius — super easy to use!

It seems to me that Garnier is missing out here. Without a name for its foam-dispensing mechanism, Garnier has no way to capture and develop the goodwill earned by some purchasers’ positive experiences. Naming the product feature would give the public a shared term to reference in passing along word-of-mouth recommendations and lower search costs when purchasers look for other Garnier products with the named feature. A name would also draw attention to the feature, helping some of the purchasers figure out how to use it. And naming the feature wouldn’t be that difficult: a name like “Simple Squeeze” or “Clean Squeeze Technology” might work.

By using a name to call attention to and capture the goodwill in the product feature, and by protecting the name with a trademark, Garnier could gain a marketing advantage against all those normal pump-top bottles out there. Further, the trademark for the name of the product feature could be paired up with non-traditional trademarks, like non-functional product packaging or color, and marketers could work the name into corresponding “look for” advertising campaigns. All of these trademark rights that Garnier could develop would exist on top of any patent rights and copyrights that Garnier might also acquire for the product feature or packaging. This is the robust intellectual property layering that Steve blogged about last week.

Ok, so maybe this is a lot to ask from a foam dispenser. Then again, people like to squeeze things! And squeezing seems to build serious brand connections. Am I right, Charmin?

So let’s ask the marketing types. What do you think: should Garnier try to squeeze a little more out its foam-dispensing mechanism? Should we trademark types spend more time helping our clients find these opportunities to squeeze the most out of a product feature?