A little something from Doug:
I received a last minute call the other day from a boyhood friend inviting me to see the band AC/DC in concert at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. Why? On one hand, I’ve never seen AC/DC live. Say what you will, but any band that can sell out two shows at a modern basketball arena, some 35 years after their founding, must be doing something right. Indeed, since forming in 1973, AC/DC has achieved global sales totaling more than 150 million albums. Moreover, AC/DC is Sony BMG Music’s best-selling catalog act worldwide, selling nearly 70 million albums in the U.S. alone. On the other hand, I was also interested in AC/DC the “brand.” Would my interest have been as piqued if our seats were in, say, section 213, rather than in a catered club level luxury suite with preferred parking?? Does Angus Young wear corduroy shorts???
Arriving at the Arena parking lot the first thing I noticed was the T-shirts. Everyone seemed to have a unique AC/DC concert shirt. A badge of honor amongst concert veterans. Consistent, however, in these t-shirts was the prominent placement of the the recognizable AC/DC logo. Seeing that prominent AC/DC logo got me thinking about, and looking at, all of the band’s merchandise for sale, emblazoned with its unique logo.
It is evident that AC/DC understands the power of its logo and the goodwill associated therewith. In addition to T-shirts (designs for men, women, and children), on sale at the venue were: AC/DC posters and stickers, AC/DC jackets and outerwear, AC/DC hats, AC/DC magnets and key chains, AC/DC 2009 wall calendars, and AC/DC tour programs. Interestingly, AC/DC currently maintains U.S. trademark registrations in only International Classes 016, 025, and 026. These registrations are for the AC/DC Logo design mark, and not the standard word mark. While these registrations provide the band significant protection, and the band certainly has significant common law protection, there are some categories of goods and services the band could consider.
For example, AC/DC maintains a fairly elaborate website, yet does not maintain a U.S. registration in Class 041. The website offers streaming audio and video, but the band is not registered in Class 038. Of course, as their bread and butter, AC/DC sells CD, DVDs, and video game cartridges and discs, yet the band has no registration in Class 009. The band sells tote bags, luggage tags, and doggie sweaters in Class 18, and ashtrays in Class 034, all without U.S. trademark registrations. Big deal, you say . . . who’s gonna rip off AC/DC’s trademark? There’s an old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” One need only look at AC/DC’s metal brethren METALLICA, and its numerous trademark registrations, to see what a few ounces of prevention is worth.
“Angus, baby, call me . . . we’ll do lunch. Have you thought about AC/DC air fresheners in Class 005?”
Note from Tsan: Except as related to information pertaining to the practice of trademark law and expansion of brand protection, the views expressed herein (including without limitation the reference to the band as legendary) do not necessarily reflect the position of Cobalt or Doug’s colleagues.