April 08, 2014

The "Game of Thrones" Trademark: A Song of Goods and Services

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC


[caption id="attachment_1876" align="alignright" width="133"]

Game Of Thrones Beer
A "Game of Thrones" beer actually exists.[/caption]

Many people think of a trademark as just a name, symbol, sound, or color. This, however, is only part of the definition of a trademark. A trademark must also distinguish the owner's goods (or services, if a service mark) from others and indicate the source of the goods or services. So, the name, symbol, sound, or color portion of the trademark is inextricably tied to the goods or services on which it is used. When applying for a federal trademark registration, therefore, you must also indicate the corresponding goods or services. If you do not choose the goods and service correctly or expansively enough, you may not be able to stop others from using the trademark for other goods. An excellent example of a comprehensive strategy for identifying goods and services is that used by HBO for the trademark "Game of Thrones".

Game of Thrones is a hit television series on HBO based on George R.R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, "A Song of Ice and Fire". The television series, which just entered its fourth season, chronicles the story of multiple factions preoccupied with a fight over the crown, while an impending attack by a common and powerful enemy builds in the periphery. The show has reached cult status, and merchandising spin-offs from the series abound. Because the trademark registration as used in conjunction with the television show does not necessarily cover these spin-off products (because they relate to very different goods and services), HBO has applied for trademark registrations for the same "Game of Thrones" trademark for multiple goods and services. While action figures, swords, and clothing may seem an obvious expansion, HBO currently has over twenty trademark registrations or pending applications for the "Game of Thrones" trademark. They cover a diverse array of goods and services for items such as cookies, beer, and cosmetic items like eyebrow brushes, lip brushes, and body sponges. I'm hoping for a lipstick color called "Red Wedding".

Like HBO, you should always carefully consider the identification of goods and services and potential areas of expansion before filing for your trademark registration and remember to file for new registrations if you later expand into other areas. And, in case your DVR cut it off like ours did, here is the trailer for next weeks episode.

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide online trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.