I think we can all agree that most any company would kill to have a brand name like Fender. Iconic products. Cult following. And a cool factor that’s off the charts. It’s brand heaven.
But heaven turned to hell when Fender lost a landmark trademark case that effectively allows other guitar makers to replicate the distinctive body shapes of the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision Bass electric guitars and basses. How could this happen?
Well, Fender never actually trademarked its two-dimensional body shapes. Company attorneys sought to rectify the situation in 2003, filing applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. Then in 2004, a group of large and small guitar manufacturers and retailers, in a “David v. Goliath” action, formally opposed the applications. Finally, after five years of litigation and 20,000 pages of evidence, the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board — in a precedent-setting decision — overwhelmingly ruled in favor of the small manufacturers. This was not music to Fender’s ears. Any company is now free to produce sub-par knockoffs, and there’s nothing Fender can do about it. The ultimate cost to the company is incalculable.
Why should you care about what happened to a guitar company? Well, aerospace companies have intellectual property (IP) too. In many cases, it’s the foundation of the business. Let’s say you have a proprietary design for your company’s bestselling product, a unique aircraft component. What would happen if the product design or name was hijacked by a competitor, and you had no recourse because you lacked basic protection? This is any company’s worst nightmare.
The upside to covering your assets is considerable. A case in point: In 2007 and 2008, U.S. District Court awarded Innovative Solutions $23 million against Kollsman Inc., an Elbit Systems Ltd. subsidiary, as part of an intellectual property case that alleged misappropriation of company trade secrets relating to commercial air data computers, despite signed non-compete agreements. Ultimately, Elbit indicated that the ruling affected its second-quarter earnings to the tune of $10 million. Innovative Solutions walked away with a $23 million windfall. Nice. Click Here to download the complete whitepaper.
How much should your business be investing in marketing? The answer is, it depends, but these up-to-date industry benchmarks will help.
When and why should aerospace or aviation companies hire an outside marketing firm? Often times it comes down to the desire for change, help or improvement, and sometimes all three. If you find that one or more of these 6 scenarios describe you and your situation — it may be time to seek external support from a professional marketing firm.
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