–Dan Kelly, Attorney

I’ve often thought that copy writers could do worse than to make a close study of some of Charles Dickens’ work.  Perhaps too wordy a model for most copy, especially advertising and marketing copy, but he could paint a picture with words.

[T]he people who were shovelling away on the housetops were

Brands communicate with the world through a series of message delivery systems such as broadcast advertising, web sites, company representatives and product interaction. These systems utilize brand signals to communicate. While these signals commonly take the form of brand names and logos, they can also extend into sight, sound, touch, taste, smell or even action

As you may recall from March of this year, we blogged about Kimberly-Clark’s novel intent-to-use trademark application for a "sensory, touch mark" in connection with disposable paper hand-towels. Other discussions of sensory, touch marks may be found here

In any event, the original description of the claimed Kimberly-Clark trademark was as follows: "The

The October/November issue of Brand Packaging magazine just hit the streets and I’m deeply honored to say that my piece entitled "A Trademark Touch: Strategies for Owning and Protecting Touchmarks" is this issue’s "cover story" (minus the skull and crossbones).

The digital version can be read here. I hope you find it

Have you ever experienced or observed marketing styles that might be fairly described as high-octane, fast-paced, or perhaps, so hopped-up on Red Bull® or some other energy drink, there is simply no time for meaningful collaboration, much less careful, proactive, strategic thinking or planning? Perhaps a fun, exhilarating experience, but what are the consequences?

If you have, as you might know first hand (or at least imagine), this style can seriously compromise valuable intellectual property rights and protection. You know when the trademark attorney gets the call if this style controls, right? Immediately upon encountering a serious and unfair competitive threat. But in many instances, this will be long after a coherent strategy might have been created, well after packaging is designed and introduced, well after marketing materials are finalized and distributed, long after websites have been launched, and well after all the unknowing, but self-inflicted damage is done. In some cases the resulting damage is manageable and can be repaired, other times it is not, and legal claims that might have been strong and viable suddenly have turned dead-on-arrival.

Continue Reading One Risqué of a Bawls-to-the-Wall Marketing Style?

Tommy The Who.jpg

Tommy has a lot to offer in advancing the recognition of certain kinds of non-traditional trademarks, especially touch marks. Yes, The Who’s tune from the Tommy Soundtrack “See Me, Feel Me / Listening to You” repeats these lyrics over and over: “See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.”

Continue Reading Non-Traditional Trademarks Revisited: Feel Me, Touch Me

Let’s revisit the topic of non-traditional “touch” trademarks today.

Of all the traditional five human senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) and trademarks that can be perceived by one or more of those senses, touch, a/k/a tactile, a/k/a texture trademarks are just about as uncommon as any (taste, perhaps, being the least common). Indeed, back in 2006, Marty Schwimmer from The Trademark Blog correctly noted the dearth of recognized tactile marks. Moreover, despite a 2006 INTA Board of Directors’ Resolution supporting the protection of touch marks, few appear to have reached for or grabbed any such protection (putting aside Kimberly-Clark, already blogged about here).

As arguably one of the most intimate of the senses: ‘Touch is the first sense developed in the womb and the last sense used before death.” Given that and given other unique characteristics of “touch” among the senses, it is a bit surprising that touch marks haven’t been pursued more by marketers looking to create intimate, emotional connections with a brand: “Another distinction of the sense of touch is that it is identified with the real. You can’t believe your eyes, nor your ears, and taste is personal and subjective, but touch is proof.” By the way, since touch/tactile/texture marks are so uncommon, why can’t we agree on what to call them? For what its worth, my vote is to call them “touch” marks since that is the term that names the underlying basic human sense.

Anyway, with that background, as far as I can tell, the one industry that seems to show the most promise or, at least, interest in touch trademarks, is the alcoholic beverages industry, most particularly those companies that focus on selling distilled spirits or wine.

                          

Continue Reading Touch Trademarks and Tactile Brands With Mojo: Feeling the Strength of a Velvet, Turgid, Touch Mark?

Kimberly-Clark® is no stranger to securing federal registrations for its various non-traditional trademarks. No doubt, these unconventional trademark assets are of great commercial value and an important part of K-C’s evolving business strategy and intellectual property portfolio.

My previous post about the oval-shaped facial tissue container K-C was able to federally register in November 2007 is linked here. That post also discussed their current non-traditional trademark application covering a “textured alternating dot pattern appearing on the surface of the carton of disposable paper hand-towels.” By way of update, it was initially refused registration in April, but the application remains pending, as can be seen here, with no response due until October 2009.

Kimberly-Clark® has non-traditional, single color trademarks too:

Kimberly Clark Safeskin Purple Nitrile Exam GlovesSAFESKIN® Purple Nitrile Exam Gloves, Beaded Cuff, Small, Purple. Box of 100

In fact, I recently came across a pair of their federal trademark registrations for “the color purple,” one obtained in 2002 and the other in 2006. The differences in the description of goods between these two “color purple” registrations help make a point that is quite important to both marketing and trademark types, namely, the importance of keeping registered trademark scope current and consistent with the underlying and evolving business scope.

Continue Reading Kimberly-Clark and The Color Purple: Keeping Trademark Scope Current and Consistent with Business Scope