Pushing Presidential through the PTO?

Posted by | November 11, 2011 | General | No Comments

Last night, my favorite pseudonews anchor, Jon Stewart, had a clip on the Republican Presidential candidates and most recent debate:

Upon hearing Stewart’s prediction for who will win the Republican nomination (watch it, it’s worth it), I bolted to my computer to investigate which candidates or their supporters had wasted money on useless trademark registration applications that have not yet matured into registrations.  Stewart declared all but one of their candidacies dead, and I presumed he is correct, leading me to suspect that at least a few of the candidates wasted some cash rushing to protect their brands during the fleeting lifetime of their campaigns.  Whose time is up before they could cash in on their candidacies, you wonder?

Somewhat to my surprise, only one 2012 Presidential candidate thus far has approved a trademark application filed in connection with his campaign.  As discussed in my post about Obama marks, living individuals must sign a Name Portrait Consent for their name to be registered as part of a trademark.  I located no applications or registrations filed on behalf of Presidential hopefuls: Newt Gingrich; Rick Santorum; Michele Bachmann; Jon Huntsman; Rick Perry (or Colbert’s one-time favorite, Rick Parry); Mitt Romney or my favorite Republican candidate, Buddy Roemer.  This despite the clearly catchy slogans that could be adopted and registered, like:

Santorum I’m for him.

Gingrich for the Rich

Ron Paul Win it All

Hit a Homer with Roemer

While I may not have a campaign-slogan-creating career ahead of me, I find that less surprising than the fact that Herman Cain is the only 2012 declared Republican candidate in connection with which an approved trademark application has been filed.

Friends of Herman Cain applied to register this mark with his consent:

On June 17, 2011 for “information about political elections.”  Cain’s Friend’s application must have been assigned to a Cain supporter at the USPTO, because it flew through the examination process at mach speed.  Most trademark registration applications aren’t even assigned to an Examining Attorney for 3 months; in fact, all recently filed applications bear a Current Status that reads, “New application will be assigned to an examining attorney approximately 3 months after filing date.”  Yet, this Cain application became Published for Opposition in the same period of time that it takes most applications to start the examination process.  The Cain application was filed on June 21, 2011 and Published for Opposition on September 20, 2011.  Does the Cain camp have a PTO insider?  Did the others candidates know deep down that their time on the campaign trail would be too short lived to warrant seeking trademark protection relative to the campaigns?  These mysteries may never be solved and probably won’t even be noticed, except by smart folks like you who read this blog.  (Thank you!)

It is important to consider the lifespan of a brand when considering whether to protect it via federal trademark registration.  It usually takes about a year from application through registration (unless you’re Herman Cain).  If the campaign won’t last that long (be it a political campaign or marketing campaign) it probably does not make sense to register the mark.


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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