Modern marketing strategies require manufacturers not only to provide high-quality products, but also to pay a lot of attention to the promotion and popularization of their own brand. In this case, the brand consists of a set of objects that form the company’s image. Such should include brand name, trademarks and other means of individualizing, logos, slogans, business reputation, and other intangible assets of the enterprise, which affect the image.
Some of these objects can be registered in the patent offices and provide recognition of the owner’s rights at the nationwide level. Others, such as a company’s reputation, are not subject to registration, but this does not mean that such concepts are not recognized. The difference in legal protection regimes affects the degree of protection of an object: official registration or another way of certifying rights, such as escrow, makes it possible to clearly identify the owner's property, determine the beginning of ownership and confirm the owner’s exclusive rights. This makes it easier to prove a person’s entitlement, and the protection of interests in registered intangible assets becomes more effective.
Articles 1477-1515 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation deal with trademark and service mark rights. According to the provisions of the said rules of law, trademarks among others also include verbal designations registered as required.
It should be noted that these kinds of trademarks are traditional signs, and most often these objects consist of one or more words in the original graphic style. The right holder may use a means of individualizing on a label, in the name of the domain name, advertising, etc. Quite often, along with such trademarks, companies use slogans. If you compare the slogan with a trademark consisting of one or two words, the first can be called a charactonym. This name can be explained as follows: the slogan is a short phrase that carries a certain idea, describes and characterizes the company’s policy and in such a way says something to the consumer. For example, one of the Adidas company slogans sounds like: Impossible is Nothing. Thus, the manufacturer declares that its customers are capable of anything. That sounds promising.
Unlike standard one-word trademarks, a slogan is created for active use in advertising campaigns, to be seen and heard by the customer, and to reflect the needs and priorities of the intended target group. It is also worth noting that the slogan is a very dynamic designation, which changes together with the needs of customers under the right internal company policy. So, all the well-known Nike slogans Just do it! and the Coca-Cola company slogan Taste the Feeling changed with the arrival of the pandemic caused by COVID-2019. Nike now calls for Play inside, play for the world, and Coca-Cola declares Be Open Like Never Before. In this way, the companies communicate the necessity of following safety rules to prevent infections and ask to help each other in these times of turbulence.
The above-mentioned examples show that companies actively use slogans, thus entering a dialogue with consumers. At the same time, slogans, along with simple verbal trademarks, also become the subject of unfair actions by offenders. This raises the logical question: “Can a rightsholder protect its slogan?” Fortunately, the answer is positive. Under the Russian trademark law, there are no provisions prohibiting the registration of trademarks, consisting of 3 or 4 words. Therefore, provided other requirements are met, the slogan can be registered as a trademark. This is exactly what Nike did, securing the famous slogan Just do it! the status of a trademark in Russia.
Originally published in World Trademark Review