Your audience knows your business through its trademarks — its name and logo, its slogan and the colors it uses in its branding. If your business becomes successful, competitors might want to take advantage of your reputation by mimicking your trademarks, but if you act fast, you can legally prevent them from infringing on your hard work and savvy. Trademark registration allows other businesses to identify what words, symbols and more have been claimed by other companies in operation — and it can also give you a glimpse into all the aspects of your business that are capable of being protected by trademark law.
To help, here are some of the most interesting trademarks we could find, which might inspire you to apply for more trademarks to keep your business safe:
Everyone knows what is inside that robin’s egg–blue jewelry box. Tiffany blue has been used by the jewelry designer since 1845, but only in 1998 did the company register the color as a trademark. Now, no other company can use that specific shade of blue — #81D8D0 — without facing Tiffany in court.
Usain Bolt’s Victory Pose
The fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt always strikes a pose when he wins a race — transforming himself into a lighting bolt pointing toward the sky. While the pose became incredibly popular amongst Bolt’s fans, no other athlete or commercial organization can mimic his gesture without licensing the move, as Bolt possesses a trademark on his iconic look.
Taylor Swift’s Cat Names
Taylor Swift’s legions of fans, who identify by the monicker Swifties, know almost everything about the singer’s life, to include the names and personalities of her three cats. In fact, Swift’s cats have become so famous in their own right that Swift trademarked their names — not to prevent other cat lovers from using the names for their own felines but to corner the market on Swiftie cat merchandise.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Look
A divisive figure in fashion history, Karl Lagerfeld has come into the spotlight once again thanks to the Met Gala’s 2023 theme. While attendees strove to pay homage to Lagerfeld’s influential designs, none were able to copy the designer directly, as Lagerfeld had his personal look — ponytail and sunglasses — trademarked in the early 2000s.
Darth Vader’s Breath
Almost immediately upon release, “Star Wars” became one of the most significant media franchises in American history. Through the years, George Lucas — and now Disney — have trademarked almost every aspect of the Star Wars universe, but the so-called soundmark of Darth Vader’s raspy breath is one of the most interesting.
Law & Order’s Dun-dun
Another soundmark, the inscrutable dun-dun noise that precedes every episode of the long-running series “Law & Order” is also trademarked. The sound is an intricate combination of different noises, from a jail door slamming to a hammer hitting an anvil to a variety of different types of drums.
Still the largest social media website in the world with 3 billion active monthly users, Facebook claims a heroic number of trademarks. However, some of the more interesting trademarks include words that you probably use every day. Facebook has a trademark on the word “home,” in reference to a user’s homepage. Facebook also trademarked the individual words “face” and “book.” Of course, that doesn’t stop other companies from using these words in their own trademarks.
Marvel’s and DC’s Superheroes
It might seem that any character with special powers and spandex clothes should be considered a superhero, but in fact, only Marvel and DC can refer to their caped crusaders by this term. A trademark that is jointly owned by long-time rivals, the word “superhero” is more closely protected than you might expect.
What do you call the bubbly plastic wrapping you use to protect delicate goods in shipping or storage? If you are a business, you probably shouldn’t say “Bubble Wrap.” Though ubiquitous, the term Bubble Wrap is a trademark owned by the company that invented the packing material. It is possible that Bubble Wrap might go the way of Kleenex or Xerox, but until it is proven to be generic, you should use it with care.
You can trademark almost any aspect of your business, as long as customers associate your company with the concept. You might take inspiration from any of the above weird and wild trademarks to aggressively protect your business today.