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The importance of trademark


Opting for licenses is opting for the future.  According to our sales management expert Victor Valencia, “the line between adulthood and an eternal childhood is the brand.  If an object is adapted to an adult consumer, we can cross that line easily.  There are things available now that weren’t available when we were children and we aren’t ready to pass up the chance to enjoy them in spite of being ‘all grown up’ now.”.

First things first- let’s call a spade a spade, define things as it were.  Trademark (in the company of its romance language equivalents; marca in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese), marque in French, and marcă in Romanian) is derived from the German, Marke, defined as a distinguishing characteristic or feature firmly associated with a person or thing, something which marks the territory or defines the boundries of something.  You can continue to extrapolate on and interpret this in a variety of ways.  For example, the definition of a commercial territory is defined as “market” and a trademark serves to clearly define a market product with accuracy.

Years ago, the singer Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Man Gave Names To All The Animals which talks about humans’ implicit need to name and thereby mark, all living things.  The truth is that even this isn’t enough and humankind has a long-established tradition of naming everything, including inanimate and stationary objects.  One could conclude that the act of naming is a human necessity.
Clearly, all things which are known to exist have names.  That which is new or unnamed must be given some sort of identifying mark or name, something our friends the Germans have shown an aptitude for solving quickly and logically (For example, airplane in German is literally “flying thing”.  If that’s not precision, then I’m not sure what is!).

For time immemorial, going back as far as the Romans and beyond, we have recognized that an object without a shape or clear, delimiting border cannot be identified.  A thing without a name cannot be talked about and therefore, cannot be defined.  A trademark license is nothing more than a way to begin to define something on the market with a precision which both identifies and clarifies.

The Peter Pan Generation
Those of us who braved Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups, about five “big boys”, (not that it was either good or bad, simply exactly what you would expect to see based on the title and cast, although I suppose we all have our own expectations) can observe the society I have written about both actively and passively in so many articles, the so-called Peter Pan generation, the generation that never wants to grow up.  It wouldn’t amount to much if this was one of those things where we could say “Only in the USA…”, because as we all know, there are certain things that really do happen only in America.  The “only in American…” phenomena is something we follow closely in my home country of Spain, but perhaps that is another article unto itself because there are things that happen here that don’t reach America in spite of the fact that the continent is huge and full of people of all sorts of political and social stripes.
Returning to the idea of grown ups caught up in a seemingly eternal childhood as a worldwide trend that isn’t exclusive to the United States, this year I’ve found myself multiple times in the same chain of rapid repair shops, where I’ve been surprised by a whole range of products ranging from steering wheel and seat belt covers to floor protectors, sun shades and air fresheners all emblazoned with images of The Simpsons and Hello Kitty among others.  Basically, it’s the trademark that marks the style and differentiates the object and there are more Peter Pans out there than we realize.

The world of these Peter Pans is full of “cool” and “entertaining” brands; it’s a world with its own names.  So who are the Peter Pans of the moment?  Well, we are around 55 years old  (not 5+5, but 55 years, one after the other).  The same parents who saw Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the movie theater (well, I should say we saw it-- I have to include myself although my daughters don’t really believe that I was ever a kid) also saw Monsters, Inc. and enjoyed it (being completely honest).  We saw Karate Kid as teens and will most likely see Karate Kid 2010 and will probably enjoy it as well.  We don’t ever really grow up, nor do we want to… Peter Pan knew what he was talking about!

Betting on the future
There are things available now that weren’t available when we were children and we aren’t ready to pass up the chance to enjoy them in spite of being all grown up.  We want things made to measure (XL, not to mention some of us need a XXL!) so we have the chance to try them.  Reality TV programs, where adults jump at the chance to “play” and overcome series of often ridiculous tests are just another reflection of how we continue to want to play and enjoy ourselves like kids.

Licensed brands are, as their name indicates, licenses.  Licenses that we as grownups can give to ourselves.  A Sponge Bob towel for example, isn’t something we would use (or, at least without recognizing that if it comes off as foolish for a twenty-something, that for us it’s completely embarrassing), but if we have little ones, we certainly wouldn’t deny them the possibility.  In fact, if we saw one, we might even encourage them to buy it because it’s fun and amusing to see it stretched along the beach or hung out to dry.  In my house, before we (parents and two daughters 50, 50, 22 and 21 years old respectively) know it, we find ourselves in front of the TV watching Sponge Bob, firstly because it’s entertaining and secondly, it’s better than the other options available and finally, because my daughters are the ones who ultimately control the remote control.  Next thing you know, suddenly before you know it you’ve
become a Sponge Bob fan.

Opting for licenses is a means of opting for the future, but not all segments of the market have access to licenses.  There are many distribution channels willing to sell them but unable to buy them directly from the distributor or to find products that have been adequately adapted for their consumers and markets.  We can’t talk about what hasn’t been named, and this is something that a trademark allows us to overcome.

The licensing market should expand its target audience.  To be successful, prices need to be lowered in order to allow the generalized expansion of licensed products.  This would give us, the members of the Peter Pan generation, the chance to continue living out our extended childhood without having to rely on the excuse of our kids in order to treat ourselves.  Furthermore, our children, the 15 to 20-somethings, are another market who buys things for our birthdays and holidays.  In fact, we might even begin to buy some of these products for ourselves.  The line between being adulthood and an eternal childhood is the brand.  If an object is adapted to an adult consumer, we can cross that line easily.  

So here, I’m saying it clearly: Go out and get the “big kids”!  And don’t forget the littlest ones either, where outside of the domination of Mickey Mouse, there’s not much originality.  There are distribution channels out there waiting for the chance to sell licensed products to both the infant and adult markets. And where there’s a will, there’s a way, you can bet on it!

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