• March 20, 2015

But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash…
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

Singer: Lorde.

Lyric Writers: Ella Marija la Yelich O’Connor, Joel Little.

Copyright: Songs Of Smp, Emi Music Publishing Australia Pty Ltd.

vasque-logoMany will recognize these lyrics from a famous tune of recent years and many will not need to be educated about what “Cristal” and “Maybach” mean. When you own marks like “Cristal,” or “Maybach,” and when products associated with these marks are widely regarded to confer status on the users and buyers, you are wildly rich.

You are also going to have to spend some of your profits protecting your mark because others will undoubtedly want to piggy-back on your successful mark without your permission, and without your having collected a licensing fee (and could pollute your mark by associating it with inferior products).

And the problems with “mark maximizing” don’t end there. Let’s say that you own a mark that, over many decades, has become associated with one of the best hard-core heavy-duty mountain-climbing boots ever made and another company, that makes shoes for “the urban market” in places like New Jersey, New York City, Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago, wants to use the mark. They want to license the mark from you. See any risks there?

Just as there may be no market for the Cristal mark (known for a high end champagne) for, say, soda pop, maybe the “urban market” has no interest in the Vasque mark, a mark associated with high-end mountain-climbing footwear?

Minnesota’s beloved Red Wing Shoes owns the Vasque mark and B-Jays is a New Jersey based company that has been fighting with Red Wing Shoes for quite a few years. Now they are at it again. Apparently, Red Wing shoes negotiated a minimum royalty for use of its Vasque mark and, apparently, B-Jays cannot come up with the dough.

I have no knowledge or experience in marketing but I would think a manufacturer takes on a significant risk when it chooses to expand the reach of its mark. Louis Vuitton tortilla press? Gucci nunchuks? Ralph Lauren adult diapers?

In this case, I don’t think Red Wing will lose any value to its Vasque mark by licensing it to B-Jays, but B-Jay might have lost some cred (and/or just cash) by hooking up to Vasque?

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