VLF Video Educational Series – Trademarks


Charles Vethan: Hi, I’m Charles Vethan. This is part of the VLF Video Educational series. Today, we’ll be discussing one company has many trademarks. Joe to start off our conversation, explain to our friends what a trademark is.

Joseph Lanza: Briefly Charles a trademark is a source identifier. It identifies a source of good or service. When consumers see your company’s trademark they know that product comes from you and not some other source.

Charles Vethan: What are some examples of trademark?

Joseph Lanza: Well, Nike shoes is a famous trademark. Apple’s apple is another famous trademark. Champion’s sportswear, Champion’s spark plugs, FordF150 is another well-known mark, as well as Harley Davidson.

Charles: We’ll be talking about Harley Davidson a little bit later in our video. Joe is there a reason that a company would have different trademarks for various brands?

Joseph: Sure, Charles. Often companies have multiple products and those products are directly demographics. By having a trademark for each different product that trademark resonates with that particular demographic. They may also want to distinguish certain types of products from other products.

Charles: We’ve talked about a visual representation trademarks. Are there other types of trademarks?

Joseph: Sure. There are sounds that can be trademarks. For example, the MGM Lion’s roar is iconic and that is one of the most recognized trademarks from Hollywood. NBC’s chimes are another example of a sounds trademarks.

Charles: One of the trademarks that the company didn’t prosecute is we’ll talk a little bit more, and that is the trademark for the sound of a Harley Davidson. For that we will visit our friends at local Harley Davidson dealership in Green, Texas. Hey, Joe. We talked about trademarks earlier this morning. Here we are today at Green Harley Davidson. We’re here with…

Jess: I’m Jess Stewart. I’m a salesman here at Green Harley Davidson.

Charles: And…

Megan: I’m Megan Miller. I’m the marketing director for Green Harley.

Charles: Alright. Give us a background about Green Harley Davidson.

Megan: Green Harley Davidson has been in business for just about ten years. We’re celebrating our anniversary in June. What we really focus on is setting ourselves apart from the other dealerships. We want our customers to know that when they come in here they’re going to experience the difference coming in to Green Harley. One thing we really try to pride ourselves on is we want to deliver customers the personal freedom they deserve. We also pride ourselves on giving back to our local communities.

Charles: So we learned about Green Harley Davidson. Can you guys give us some history of the brand itself, the Harley Davidson lore?

Jess: Sure. In 1903 William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson started Harley Davidson motorcycles. They started with a single cylinder, 24 cubic inch model, 450 cc’s and it has evolved ever since.

Charles: We’ve talked about Green Harley Davidson. What about the brand itself? One of the most iconic brands, manufactured in the United States. Why is the Harley Davidson brand so popular?

Megan: Realistically, we refer to Harley Davidson as the original social network. People tattoo our brand on their bodies. It’s not because of the stock prices, not because of what management’s decisions were made in previous weeks but because it represents a belief system, it represents personal freedom and what that means to the individual that has it in the part of their life.

Charles: We talked about the brand and the history of motorcycle. What’s the most distinctive feature of a Harley Davidson?

Jess: Hands down, it’s going to be the sound. I remember being 12 years old and hearing gorgeous women talk about the rumble of a Harley. It’s one of the things that stuck with me and will always be with me. The sound of a Harley cannot be replicated or duplicated. It is probably the most iconic part of Harley Davidson.

Charles: The sound that rolls.

Jess: Yes, sir.

Joseph: Harley Davidson has a certain mystic about it. Can you describe that mystic?

Megan: You know, I really think what that is is unlike many other brands out there we lead with the reasoning why. We lead with personal freedom and what that represents. I feel that’s what separates us from many other brands out there.

Charles: We are at the dealership and we have several different models of Harley Davidsons. For our topic here today on trademarks, does Harley Davidson have trademarks on its various different models?

Megan: Yes, Harley Davidson does. The reason behind that is because the words like Fat Boy, Road King, those are a part of some of our most valuable assets that we have. If we were to allow others to use those or when others do, that really diminishes and it takes away from the brand and it decreases the brand integrity that we have.

Charles: A brand has been used by the company for now over what, a 113 years.

Jess: 113 years.

Charles: Has the trademark changed over the years?

Jess: No.

Charles: In fact the bar and shield, I think that’s the main logo.

Jess:  It was first presented in 1910.

Charles: 1910. How about the colors because Harley always uses orange and black, right?

Megan: Right. There is a specific set of colors that distinguish us from others. Just like our verbiage, just like the words that we use, those colors set us apart and when people see those they automatically think Harley Davidson.

Charles: Joe, that brings up another good point. Is it important for companies to aggressively protect their trademarks?

Joseph: It’s very important for companies to aggressively protect their trademarks. If a competitor is infringing on your trademark or are like counterfeiting your trademarks, that means that customers are buying your competitor’s product and not your product. Second, is this is often the case in infringement and outright counterfeiting, the products are inferior. Then customers will come to associate that inferior product with your own product thus decreasing the value of your brand. Finally, if you don’t aggressively protect trademarks you’re on the risk of the trademark being abandoned or the term becoming generic. In other words, it’s passing into the common usage.

Charles: That will bring us to the end of this vlog. If you need more information, please go to our website www.vethanlaw.com. Thank you, Jess. Thank you, Megan for entertaining us here today. We’ll see you next time.

I wanted to personally thank you and your staff again for doing such a great job. VLF has been simply amazing. Their professionalism, negotiating skills, and knowledge of the law have simply been a lifesaver for my business. The overall settlement was so much more than we ever expected and hoped for. Simply put, they saved my company. I cannot say enough about your firm and its staff. Thanks to you, my company will continue to grow and be profitable. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Scott Stephens President, Custom Shop Guitars of Texas, LLC Vethan Law Firm, P.C. April 10, 2016

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