Should You Register Your Advertising Slogans?

Authors: Ausrine Sakalauskaite, Junior Consultant at METIDA, Violeta Sutkiene, Associated Partner, Head of the Trademark and Design Division at METIDA

hand-791230_640“A Diamond Is Forever”. “Because I’m Worth It”. “Success. It’s a Mind Game”. These advertising slogans make you dream about engagement rings, a femme fatale and luxury watches. And they are only a few examples of famous advertising phrases that users can unquestionably link to certain goods.

“A Diamond Is Forever”, the famous slogan belonging to De Beers and created in 1947 by Frances Gerety who worked at  N. W. Ayer & Son, has been successfully used for 67 years. This short message changed public’s attitude to jewellery with diamonds, particularly engagement rings. Until De Beers’ advertisement, unlike washing machines, cars and other items, engagement rings with diamonds had been considered to be a total waste of money. However, Frances Gerety’s created slogan changed everything (SULLIVAN J. COURTNEY. The Engagements. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 2013, p. 5.), as it made more and more women fantasize about engagement rings with diamonds or yearn for diamond necklaces for their wedding anniversary. This was only because De Beer’s cunning slogan made the public equate solid and long lasting diamonds with eternal love and happy as well as never-ending marriage. Due to this slogan, diamonds have gained an emotional and sentimental value. In 1999 Gerety’s masterpiece was named the slogan of the 20th century. Even nowadays it is presented for business and marketing students as an example of innovative methods and absolute longevity.

 “A Diamond Is Forever” is not the only successfully registered slogan that, for years, has been marketing the trademark it represents. “AJAX. Stronger than Dirt”, “ADIDAS. Impossible Is Nothing”, “LEVI‘S. Quality Never Goes out of Style”, “Just Do It”, “It‘s Finger Lickin‘ Good” and “I’m Lovin It” (this McDonalds’ trademark is often accompanied with a melody making it even more memorable) are other examples of this type of slogans. However, it is not enough to think of a catchy phrase. If you want to register your slogan, it needs to have a distinctive character. The slogan cannot be of praising or descriptive nature in relation to goods it represents. For instance, the case RheinfelsQuellen H. Hovelmann vs the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Marker (OHIM) analysed the slogan “VOM URSPRUNG HER VOLLKOMMEN” (“perfect from the beginning”) which was attempted to be registered for goods such as “beers; mineral and aerated waters and other non-alcoholic drinks; fruit drinks and fruit juices; syrups and other preparations for making beverages; mixtures of these drinks and alcoholic beverages (except beers)”, falling within Classes 32 and 33 of the Nice Agreement. The OHIM rejected the registration on the grounds that slogan’s meaning is descriptive (the slogan explicitly refers to the purity and perfection of the ingredients of the drinks, and in particular to that of the water used). Similarly, the OHIM rejected the registration of other trademarks (e.g. “PASSION TO PERFORM”, “WASH & COFFEE”, “CARE TO CARE” and etc.).

 The slogan is believed to be perceived as having the distinctive character, rather than to be simply viewed as the phrase emphasizing and praising goods or services. This applies if the slogan has several connotations, contains puns, can be seen as very creative, strange and unpredictable due to its elicitation of surprise and intrigue elements, evokes special reactions, is original, makes the public think intensively and requires explanation, has a peculiar syntactic structure or contains an alliteration, a metaphor, a rhyme or a paradox, and etc. Slogans which have a vague and unintelligible meaning or which require certain mental attempts to understand it can be seen as having the distinctive character too, as users in this case may struggle to associate it with relevant goods or services.

To conclude, it is possible that your slogan’s registration will be rejected if it does not meet the appropriate conditions. However, this should not discourage you from trying to register your slogan as the trademark. If you decide to do so, do not rush, consult with professionals specialising in this matter and register the best possible slogan. This will ensure your slogan’s significance and protection.

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