Spoiler Alert: Startup Secrets and Hidden Trademarks
Hannah Samendinger | September 12, 2017
Any good product requires a considerable amount of planning. As we highlighted in our previous blog post, some companies will go to great lengths to keep these plans secret. Other companies, often smaller ones with less structured, anticipated, or secretive releases, do not go to the same lengths. This means that we can search government trademark databases to find clues for what is coming down the pipeline.
I was recently discussing Glossier, the new and incredibly popular cosmetics company, with my coworker when she said, “I wish they would make a mascara.” Without thinking, I informed her that there is probably a “Boy Lash” product on the way. How did I know?
They had recently teased a new product on Instagram, which they usually do for several days in advance of the release. I was curious what the product actually was, so I put my amateur detective skills to use and turned to TESS, the Trademark Electronic Search System, for some clues.
The most recently released Glossier product was “Wowder,” which was released on August 20, 2017. A quick search of TESS shows that the trademark application for “Wowder” was filed on January 20, 2017. So what else can TESS tell us about Glossier products that might be in the pipeline? An application for “Body Hero,” for use in connection with body lotion, cleansers, and oils, was filed on January 30, 2017. An application for “Boy Lash,” possibly (hopefully) an extension of their most popular product “Boy Brow,” was filed on January 31, 2017. There may also be “Lidstar” eyeshadow, “Lash Slick,” and the recently filed “Disco Lip” releases.
Glossier is certainly not the only company that files trademark applications before announcing product releases. Dollar Shave Club, a company that initially became popular due to their ad campaigns, seems to be preparing to expand into the toothbrush market, with trademark applications filed for “Loud Mouth” and “Superba!”
Casper, the mattress company, gained much attention for disrupting the mattress industry, but they may be opening some more traditional stores as well. Casper also appears to be planning temporary napping accommodations, which they’ve revealed to some extent already; smart mattresses; and wellness services.
These insights can be found in many industries, from car sharing to podcasting to coworking spaces. Lyft has filed an application for “Ride Through” for use in connection with freight and delivery services. Gimlet Media occasionally seeks protection for podcast names, which means a podcast called “The Habitat” may be released sometime soon. WeWork has filed several applications for use in connection with wellness services, incubation services, and education services.
Lastly, we also uncovered some snack clues. The blog Tantalizing Trademarks recently pointed to some trademark applications filed by the ice cream company Halo Top. The applications for yogurts, ice cream makers, and other dairy related products indicates that they are looking to expand their brand in the near future. This got us thinking about other food companies that might have new products in the works.
Frito Lay has filed three recent applications for snack flavors: “Cheddalicious BBQ,” “Cracker Jill,” and “Doritos Blaze.” Ben and Jerry’s also has some recent applications for new flavors, including “Special Stash,” “Chillin’ the Roast,” and “Glampfire Trail Mix.” Perhaps the most interesting snack-related application we came across is another Ben and Jerry’s filing for “Dude Food,” a Big Lebowski-themed flavor. In 2011, over 1,300 people liked a Facebook page petitioning to add Dude Food as a new flavor, so they (and we) might have something to get excited about.
While some people may not spend much time thinking about the names of the products they love, these filings all reveal the value of trademark protection; it’s an integral part of the product itself. In fact, a product’s name sometimes makes it out into the public sphere long before consumers see the actual product.