May 04, 2017

Twinning the Kentucky Derby

by Guest Blogger

This weekend marks the first Saturday in May. Being a Louisville native, this means you are off to the races for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which they bill as "the longest continually running sporting event in America." The iconic Twin Spires, which perch atop the grandstand of Churchill Downs, can be seen far and wide and are promoted internationally as a symbol of both Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.

The Twin Spires were constructed in 1895. The architect felt the then-new grandstand needed an architectural focal point. His vision has endured for more than a century, during which time Churchill Downs has turned the Twin Spires into a trademark brand. Churchill Downs is no stranger to branding and has an array of licensed merchandise for the Kentucky Derby that could rival a college sports team. People collect the annual commemorative Derby Glasses released each year to hold your Mint Julep, and true collectors are known to scour flea markets for older glasses that command a high price. The Twin Spires have likewise come to hold a strong place among Churchill Downs brands.

Churchill Downs Incorporated owns several trademark registrations associated with the Twin Spires, including protection for the words, the designs and more recently as a three-dimensional design as shown below. In this regard, the appearance of the Twin Spires is protected similar to the protection afforded to the shape of a Coke bottle:

Derby 1

Here is an excerpt of a marketing ad submitted by Churchill Downs with its trademark registration that covers the three-dimensional trade dress for the spires themselves. You can also see use of the two-dimensional logo which appears at the bottom of the ad that represents the Twin Spires:

Derby 2

So grab yourself a Mint Julep and get ready for the greatest two minutes in sports. Who knows, you might even win big.