Goats and Trademarks

Lars Johnson Has Goats on His Roof and a Stable of Lawyers to Prove It (Wall Street Journal)

Protecting TrademarkToday marks a milestone for KnowThis.com as we reach 3,500 stories in our Marketing Stories Archive.  Since 2004, we have continually posted relevant stories from top news sources focusing on a variety of marketing topics.  When we started listing marketing stories we did not offer much more than a link to the story.  Over time we expanded this feature by providing a brief description of the story.  Starting in 2009, we began offering detailed discussion of selected stories within our Blog.

For our 3,500 story we have this fun one from the Wall Street Journal discussing a unique trademark.  Marketers mostly use trademarks for brand names or other identifiable images, such as a logo.  Marketers look to trademarks to help protect them against competitors that may try to attract business away from the marketer by using words and images made popular by the marketer.  As an example, this story discusses a restaurant in Wisconsin that registered a unique aspect of their business – goats on the roof.  (The actual trademark can be found at the USPTO by searching for serial #74646306.)

The owner of this trademark is fighting hard to protect the mark and the story offers a good glimpse of this.  Unfortunately for the restaurant, the trademark only covers uses in the United States.  As the story notes, many other businesses around the globe use goats on their roof to attract business.

Al Johnson’s is on constant lookout for other cloven-hooved intellectual-property violations. Mr. Johnson says the restaurant’s Milwaukee law firm has sent letters to other alleged offenders, such as a gift shop in Wisconsin with a fake goat on its roof. It removed the ersatz ungulate.

Can this company use a trademark to protect a business concept or is that something only patents are able to do?

Image by eytonz