News Goes Forward

Posted by | December 20, 2010 | General | No Comments

As someone who doesn’t have cable TV, I usually catch up on the Daily Show via computer on the weekends.  This weekend while hiding inside from the winter storm, I learned that Jon Stewart recently did a segment on The Daily Show about the national news networks’ new FORWARD taglines:

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In short, MSNBC recently adopted a new tagline:

So, in response Fox adopted a new tagline, one-upping MSNBC by moving:

Not to be outdone, CNN adopted a new tagline making clear what it was moving forward:

Silly, isn’t it?

Interestingly, only FOX thus far has applied to register its new (MOVE FORWARD) tagline.

What FORWARD followers FOX and CNN have done isn’t as cunning as it may seem.  In fact, it doesn’t make a lot of sense from a trademark legal perspective.  The strength of a trademark depends in part on the relationship (or lack thereof) between the mark and the products/services it’s being used on, as well as on the number of other similar marks that are out there.  A “crowded field” exists when a term is commonly used as a trademark — the more crowded the field, the weaker the mark.  (This is another reason why fanciful marks are the strongest types of marks, as they exist in the opposite of a crowded field).  Thus, ideally you should steer away from marks that are already in use by others.  This is especially true of competitors’ marks, as choosing a mark that is too similar to your competitors may subject you to liability for trademark infringement (a post for another day).

Brand Geek TakeAway:  When choosing a mark/brand you want one that is, and will remain, unique.  Brands are like people’s names.  When you walk into a crowded room and yell, “John” or “Tom” or “Joe,” lots of guys will turn around.  But if you yell, “Quayle,” or “Chander” or “Sebastian” the number of responses will be far fewer.  Your brand should stand out like the Chanders of the world.  If you choose a mark that’s descriptive, you will have to work to acquire brand recognition.  The more descriptive the mark, the harder you will have to work to prove “secondary meaning.”  On the other hands, if you are first to market with a product or service, you have to be careful that your brand does not fall subject to genericide, but that is the subject of tomorrow’s post.

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

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