Hasbro and Hellmann’s-the power of a trademark

Recently, two well known trademarks have made news.  First, Hasbro, the well known toy manufacturer made an attempt to purchase DreamWorks Studios, the animation film company that brought us hits like Shrek and Chicken Run.  Second, Unilever, the food conglomerate, has gone after “Just Mayo”, a San Francisco based company that makes a vegetarian alternative to mayonnaise. 

What do these two matters have in common?  Trademarks.  Hasbro is one of the leading toy and game manufacturers, owning brands such as Transformers, Battleship, and My Little Pony.  With strong trademarks comes significant value in good will associated with each brand.   Hasbro, in its unsuccessful attempt to purchase DreamWorks, tried to build on that good will with the possible creation of toy and game based animated movies.  While it may not be a conventional fit, the value of Hasbro’s marks enables it to consider the possibility of branching out and creating movies around already well known and valuable characters-a merchandiser’s dream.

The “Just Mayo” case emphasizes the lengths large companies will go to in order to protect their trademarks.  Unilever’s case is focused on the premise that “Just Mayo” isn’t mayo.  In fact, it is plant based with no eggs.  Mayonnaise traditionally includes eggs.  Unilever is trying to protect its brand and prevent what may be a spreading of the traditional understanding of mayonnaise.   If “Just Mayo” succeeds, Hellmann’s may have to compete with vegetarian spreads such as “Just Mayo,” and their market share and trademark strength may decline.

What’s the take away here?  Never underestimate the power of a trademark.  While you may just be starting out, consider the value of the name and/or logo associated with your goods and/or services.  Take the necessary steps to protect it.  The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours protect trademarks and develop an IP strategy to help you keep ahead of the game.   The first telephone consultation is free.  Email us at klynch@kliplaw.com.