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When trademark becomes more renown than the real thing

Trademark registration can be viewed as a crucial step towards the market success. This article presents a closer look into the role of trademark registration in the success stories of Jacuzzi, Ping-Pong and Zamboni, for which the trademark has become more renown than the very product these brands describe.

By

Jan Buza

Jacuzzi

The initial trademark application for Jacuzzi can be traced back to 1976, revealing that this brand has enjoyed effective brand protection for nearly 5 decades. Online forums are filled with articles describing the difference between Jacuzzi and hot tub. While hot tub represents the general term used to describe the product itself, Jacuzzi is a registered trademark that can only be used by the owner of the trademark in commercial dealings.

Google Trends analysis reveals that consumers search for the term Jacuzzi 4 times more frequently than they search for the term hot tub. A substantial difference can be also seen in the number of search results, with Jacuzzi resulting in over 1,370 million results, whereas the term hot tub results in 77 million search hits.

Ping-Pong

The history of trademark registration for Ping-Pong dates even further, all the way back to 1930. The analysis provided by Google Trends reveals that it is the term Ping-Pong that is searched for almost 3 times more often than the term table tennis. This clearly makes a considerable difference for retailers selling table tennis products and related items, with the retailers with a licence to sell Ping-Pong products gaining a clear advantage. The same goes for the manufacturers, with the owners of the Ping-Pong trademark clearly having a substantial market advantage.

Zamboni

The third mini case study depicted in this article focuses on Zamboni. All ice-hockey fans obviously know what we are talking about, but just to explain to the rest of you, Zamboni is a trademark registered by Frank J. Zamboni & Co. tied specifically to the ice resurfacing machine used on ice rinks all around the world. Turning our attention once again to Google Trends analysis, the term Zamboni is searched for nearly 60 times more often than the general term ice resurfacer. The strong market position enabled by the trademark registration for Zamboni is thereby very apparent.

Lessons learned

Let’s imagine a scenario in which these three renown brands have not registered their respective trademarks from the very start. With the rapidly growing popularity of these products, an argument can be made that it would only be a matter of time until others started using these trademarks for their own commercial purposes. Furthermore, this dissemination and common use of the brand could easily result in respective terms being considered descriptive, hence, effectively limiting the legal scope for the original inventors to protect their intellectual property.

All in all, these three case studies demonstrate the vital importance of trademark registration from the very start, providing successful businesses with an opportunity to protect their brand image and sustain uninterrupted growth.

Jan Buza
Jan Buza
Product Mind

Helped scale portfolio firms for a VC fund

CEMS Prague

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