Newton Running’s Use of Trademarks
I love me some Newton Running. I’ve worn through many of their shoes and have had some great experiences with their customer service. As a triathlete, I can’t recommend Newton enough. As a trademark lawyer, I feel just as strongly about them. Newton is great with branding. The brand presentation from their website to their race tents to their shoebox inserts is consistent, creative, and effective. They have developed a brand identity like no other niche running shoe company. They use trademarks effectively. And they know their way around a good branding slogan.
THE SCIENCE OF MOTION is Newton’s prime slogan, and it works. As I described earlier, slogans cannot be informational or laudatory if they are to be protected with a trademark registration. THE SCIENCE OF MOTION is neither, and it should qualify immediately for registration on the Principal Register, but for whatever reason, Newton hasn’t yet applied on it. I cannot figure out why, but I think they must know what they are doing because of their demonstrated sophistication. But I’ll use this example to illustrate a point: a company that appears to be this branding savvy should be just as legally savvy – when you have marks that are eligible for protection, when you are using them effectively to craft a brand identity, and when you have enough recognition that others would want to trade off it, you should take the simple step of registering your trademarks.
Great post, Tom! I agree that Newton Running has done a very nice job of branding. Their blog is a nice case in point: http://www.therunningfront.com/
I first learned of Newton at a marathon (or half marathon) expo (I forget which one), and my interest was piqued, in large part, because it was a highly-touted (a shoe’s presence at an expo is some signal as to quality/seriousness) shoe with an unfamiliar logo. There’s always been cache in being new or different, and I think Newton is a great example of this. I’m curious if someone can think of other examples of brands that succeeded by virtue of being a fresh face in a market with a lot of bigger, older players (here, Nike, Adidas, Reebok).
I’m a Brooks guy (for now), by the way, and I guess that if Newton’s value proposition is newness, Brooks’s would be its niche quality. Also, Brooks’s RUN HAPPY slogan is a registered mark, interestingly: http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=77837431
Ah – for an ultimate example, check out: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/index.htm – tons of interesting IP associated with this shoe line.