Millions have flocked to movie theaters to watch the much anticipated movie Fifty Shades of Grey based on the trilogy by E L James. Whether or not you are into this kind of thing, there is no denying the success of the book franchise and the licensing empire that has followed. Fifty Shades Limited (which is the books' rights holder) has 22 trademark registrations and active pending applications filed here in the United States, and no doubt more filings internationally. They have applied to register the book titles, character names, and pithy dialogue, including:
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
THE CHRISTIAN GREY COLLECTION
SUBMIT TO ME
RED ROOM OF PAIN
The trademark filings don't just cover books or movies and include a wide array of other merchandise and services running the gambit of the nearly 50 International Classes of goods and services used by the Patent and Trademark Office for registration purposes. Some of the licensed "toy" merchandise may be better left to the imagination rather than describing them here. Other merchandise may not be so obvious â like children's clothing, adult teddy bears, wine, and even nail polish:
How Far Can You Go With Your Trademarks?
It depends on your experience level. If you plan to use your trademark with more than one product or service, then you can apply to register your trademark in multiple "classes" just like Ms. James, although you probably won't need all 50. So what are these classes?
50 Classes of Trademarks
The international trademark classification system is a listing of about 50 categories of goods and services. Items are grouped together by what they do or what they are made of. For example, electronics are in Class 9, books in Class 16, clothing in Class 25, retail store services in Class 35, healthcare services in Class 44, and so on. The number of classes and the specific products and services that you include determine the scope of protection that will be given to your trademark registration. This is why merchandising mavens like Ms. James apply to register merchandise in as many categories as possible.
Are Your Classes Current?
The types of products and services you offer can change over time. Products are updated, phased out, acquired, etc. If you have registrations, it is wise to review what products or services are actually listed in your registrations and make sure that your registrations cover all of your primary products or services. Although you cannot add on to an existing registration, you can file additional trademark applications for the same mark to cover new or additional product or service lines.
I'll leave you with this SNL skit of Fifty Shades of Grey showing casting screen tests of unlikely actor combos to portray Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele:
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