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Trademark Facts, Figures & Phenomena

Facts, figures, and sidelights regarding trademarks and brand names

1. In 2007 the combined value of the top four brands--COCA-COLA, MICROSOFT, IBM and GE--was over $200B (USD).

2. In Fiscal Year 2007, 298,796 new trademark registration applications were filed at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Yet, despite the hundreds of thousands of new applications each year, as of the end of Fiscal Year 2007 there were only 1,380,150 active registrations, because of refused, opposed, or abandoned applications and cancelled registrations.

3. The first registered trademark was the BASS ale triangle design, registered in Britain in 1876. The oldest live registration we could find at the USPTO is for SAMSON (& Design) for cords, lines, and ropes, registered in 1884.

4. Year of USPTO registration for some famous marks:

Trademark
Year Registered
NESTLE 1884
LEA & PERRINS WORCHESTERSHIRE SAUCE 1892
COCA-COLA 1893
LIFEBUOY 1895
QUAKER 1895
HEINZ 1897
GRAPE-NUTS 1898
DOMINO 1901
NABISCO 1901
PEPSI-COLA 1903
CHICLETS 1905
ARM & HAMMER 1905
LISTERINE 1906
CAMPBELL'S 1908
FORD 1909
TOOTSIE 1909
KODAK 1912
DOUBLEMINT 1915
SUN-MAID 1918
DEL MONTE 1918
PABST 1920
KELLOGG'S 1921
BREYERS 1921
CANADA DRY 1922
MAXWELL HOUSE GOOD TO THE LAST DROP 1926
GREEN GIANT GREAT BIG TENDER PEAS 1927
GOOD AND PLENTY 1928
LEVI'S 1928
TUMS 1930
MAYTAG 1935
MONOPOLY 1935
JOCKEY 1941
BAZOOKA 1949
SILLY PUTTY 1952
VELCRO 1958
FRISBEE 1959

5. Trademark registration is sometimes available for marks incorporating unusual devices, as exemplified by the following USPTO registrations:

  • Fragrances (Reg. No. 1,639,128 for a floral fragrance applied to yarn) 
  • Colors (Reg. No. 2,901,090 for the UPS brown)
  • Sounds (Reg. No. 916,522 for the NBC chimes)
  • Live animals (Reg. No. 3,238,974 for Anheuser-Busch's 8 live horses hitched to a beer wagon)
  • Moving images (Reg. No. 1,928,424 for the 20th CENTURY FOX computer-generated movie introduction)
  • Holograms (Reg. No.  2,324,607 for the AQUAFRESH hologram)
  • Light beam formations (Reg. No. 2,535,181 for a conical light beam formation)
  • Textures (Reg. No. 2,273,173 for the appearance and texture of a fibrous pot)
  • Building shapes (Reg. No. 1,872,759 for the shape of the Transamerica Building)

6.  Prime numbers, or numbers which appear prime, have enjoyed more than their fair share of success. Consider the following well-known marks:

  3M
CHANEL NO. 5
ALBERTO VO5
7-ELEVEN
SEVENTEEN
PRODUCT 19
31 FLAVORS
37SIGNALS
57 VARIETIES (not prime)
409
501 (not prime)
4711

7.  The longest registered single-word trademark we could find is: TWOALLBEEFPATTIESSPECIALSAUCELETTUCECHEESE
PICKLESONIONSONASESAMESEEDBUN, U.S. Reg. Nos.1245628 and 1253001 for restaurant services, hamburgers, and T-shirts. Obviously, the shortest registered word marks would be the single-letter ones.

8. Here's a rough idea of the approximate number of possible alphanumeric names that one might theoretically consider in a naming project, using a computer keyboard. Assuming generously that (a) realistic alphanumeric marks might range from one to thirty characters; (b) the characters could consist of 26 letters, 10 numerals, and 32 typographical symbols;  (c) any of the characters could be repeated (as in AAA), and (d) to separate "words," spaces could be inserted anywhere between the characters, the number of possible marks would be the sum of (68^(1) x 2^(0)) + (68^(2) x 2^(1)) + (68^(3) x 2^(2)) . . . (68^(30) x 2^(29)), a hefty number but not remotely approaching the number of atoms in the universe (10^(80)) or the number of possible 40-move chess games (2.5 x 10^(116)).  Of course, the trademark professional need only contemplate a minute fraction of such possibilities.  This is because almost all of them (including the random choices like X%D8$L?T) are legally, commercially, or aesthetically unusable or impractical, as reflected by the relatively small number of USPTO active trademark registrations (1.4 million for Fiscal Year 2007), of which only a fraction would be alphanumeric marks, not pictorial ones.

9.  A survey by Roger C. Collins of 180 large North American corporations showed that such companies often have huge inventories of trademarks, one or more corporations even claiming 2,500 marks.  The median number of brand names was 15, with 30 percent claiming more than 60.



 


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