WIPO Report on Trademarks, Patents, Designs

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published its report about filings of trademarks, patents, and designs.

You can download it here.

For brand proprietors, the ever increasing number of trademarks raises the following questions:

How do we maintain brand recognition / awareness?

How do we keep our brand relevant?

How do we turn brand recognition and relevance into revenue and profit?

Brand Licenses give Pricing Power

Licensees enjoy many benefits from a strong brand. One of the most important is pricing power.

Marketers of no-name products and weak labels are in no position to raise prices. They are replaced easily.

Whereas strong brands generate a premium and higher margins. And the higher margins – the brand premium – justify the royalties.

That is especially true during times of rising costs like now.

David Bowie music catalog value

The David Bowie estate is negotiating the sale of the music catalog. Offers are around US$200M.

Already in the early 2000s David Bowie issued bonds based on his music and the royalty income from licensing. He was the very first artist then. The bond sold for US$30M then.

Recently, the David Bowie estate signed a long term licensing agreement for the so-called masters, the original recording by David Bowie, with Warner Music. This guarantees licensing income for the potential buyers. And it is an excellent basis to calculate the purchase price.

David Bowie is a prime example of successful licensing. And brand management and evaluation.

Zegna + SPAC

The French luxury market has been dominated by two publicly traded Groups, LVMH and Kering for a while. And both acquired Italian brands.

The Italian market stayed more diversified with companies like Armani, Brunello Cucinelli, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Kiton, Max Mara, Prada, Tod’s to name a few.

Now Ermenegildo Zegna Group is going public via SPAC. Over years Zegna developed from textile, to menswear, to women’s wear and licensor. It took a license from Maserati, and bought brands like Thom Browne.

The Marzotto Group took a similar path earlier. Originally a textile company too, at one point they owned Hugo Boss, Valentino, and were the licensee of Marlboro Classics.

Behind the SPAC is InvestIndustrial, a private equity company, with former and current interests in Aston Martin Lagonda, Ducati, Morgan Motor Company, B&B Italia, Jacuzzi.

VF takes over Supreme

In June 2020 VF Corp announced to be open for acquisitions. Which made it a potential buyer for Reebok.

Reebok has been somewhat of a troubled child for adidas. After 15 years of ownership, enough of the purchase price should be written off. Reebok reached some sort of profitability. 2021 seems like a good time to sell it.

Naturally, when adidas ‘announced’ to be in sales talks, VF Corp was named as an interested party.

Now VF Corp announced the take over of Supreme, the NYer brand of skate boarding, hip hop, limited editions, and brand collaborations.

BlackRock invests in ABG

According to Reuters, BlackRock bought shares worth US$ 875 Millions of Authentic Brands Group (ABG), making it its biggest shareholder.

The purchase values ABG above US$ 4 Billion.

ABG was funded primarily through Leonard Green & Partners.

ABG buys and licenses famous brands like Judith Leiber, Hickey-Freeman, Jones NY, Juicy Couture, Frye, and Nautica.

It also manages celebrities, f. e. Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Greg Norman, and Michael Jackson.

What’s at steak

The case of Michael Jordan vs Dominick’s Finer Foods has made news. The website trusttreetrademarks.com is just one example. But they are missing a few points.

Dominick’s used the brands to sell steaks. Altough there are three steak hoses using Michael Jordan. One is in NYC, in Connecticut, and in Chicago. Here are the websites www.michaeljordansteakhouse.com.

A quick online search for “Michael Jordan Steak” leads to among others wikipedia, where one can read:

The company has a line of USDA Prime Steaks, sauces, condiments, grillware and collectibles, under the Michael Jordan Steaks brand. The steaks can be ordered on their website and shipped directly to customers nationwide.

So, Dominick’s used the brand in a product category, where Michael Jordan is using / licensing it already. And that was not difficult to find.

Michael Jordan has profited from his brands quite substantially. And no proprietor of a valuable brand can afford to lose it, But this happens, if you do not defend it. If Michael Jordan had not filed suit, he was in danger of losing his brand, at least in that category.

Dominick’s could have asked for a license. It is not that difficult.

P+G sells Rochas

Procter and Gamble has sold its Rochas brand to Interparfums SA, a subsidiary of Inter Parfums, Inc.

Rochas started as a fashion house and expanded into perfumery in the 1950s. In 2013/2014 Rochas had net sales of US$46 million. This includes US$2 million of royalties generated by the fashion and accessory business via license agreements.

This sale covers all brand names and trademarks, the selling price is US$108 million.