June 24, 2014

Natty Light Proves Even Bad Products Need Trademark Protection

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC

Dwd Dp Nattylight

When most people think of valuable brands, they think of high-end products like Apple and Porsche. Purveyors of lower-end products may think that their brands have little value and do not warrant federal trademark protection. The purpose of a trademark, however, is to designate the source of the goods or services so that when customers see the trademark, they know what product they are getting and where it came from. Therefore, a trademark (even a federally registered one) does not inherently indicate good quality. A trademark merely indicates whatever quality is associated with that trademark. In other words, it embodies the expectations and goodwill of customers associated with the goods or services. So, even if customers assume your product is going to be bad, your trademark can still have a great deal of value. Case-in-point, "Natural Light" beer.

"Natural Light" is a beer produced by Anheuser-Busch. It is inexpensive and it is objectively terrible. The beer has adopted a cult following among a specific (but large) group of the population that is conservative with their finances, wants to drink beer, and doesn't care what it tastes like. Those people affectionately refer to "Natural Light" as "Natty Light." Admittedly, I am one of those people. I have a lot of fond memories of fun summer days drinking Natty Light in my younger years in Kentucky.

Although a case of Natty Light may be a small investment for consumers, Anheuser-Busch has invested heavily in the brand. In fact, Anheuser-Busch has embraced its core demographic and owns several federal trademark registrations for variations on "Natty" for beer (including one for its more recently launched "Natty Daddy" beer). The value of these trademarks to Anheuser-Busch is unquestionable. It recently filed an opposition to an application for registration of the trademark "Natty Greene's" for beer. In that filing, Anheuser-Busch claimed it has spent millions of dollars advertising its "Natty" trademarks. This seems plausible, since it paid to send a can of Natty Light to space (well, technically the "Nattmosphere").

The moral of the story is that there is great value in seeking federal trademark protection for all of your goods. Even if those goods are really, really bad.

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