LEX VINI

"SKINNY" Brands are Where It’s At

In our monthly review of trademark applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it appears the latest trend in alcohol beverage products is “SKINNY” brands.  In the month of May 2011, there were six different trademark applications filed for marks for alcohol beverage products encompassing the term “SKINNY.”  These included the marks SKINNILICIOUS (alcohol cocktail mixes), SKINNY APPLE (hard cider), SKINNY CAIPIRINHA (prepared alcoholic cocktails), SKINNY MOJITO (alcoholic beverages except beer), SKINNY MOMMY (wine) and SKINNY PIRATE (alcoholic cocktail mixes), not to mention the related application for SLIM COCKTAIL (alcoholic mixed beverages except beers).

This latest trend is no doubt inspired by the acquisition of the SKINNYGIRL brand of prepared margarita cocktails by Beam Global from New York Housewife Bethany Frankel for $120 million.

The term “SKINNY” was not unique to the SKINNYGIRL brand when Beam decided to acquire it as there existed established brands with registered marks such as THE SKINNY BITCH for wine and SKINNY TINIS for wine, spirits and liqueurs.  Thus, neither Frankel nor Beam could claim exclusivity to the term “SKINNY” in association with alcohol beverage products when the SKINNYGIRL mark was adopted.

Industry publications have indicated that the value of the deal to Beam Global was “to access the built-in demographic and platform that Frankel brings to the table” through her reality TV presence and online social networking outlets.  This is a good thing for Beam because the brand itself appears susceptible to knock off without any remedy as evidenced by the prevalent use of “SKINNY” in association with alcohol beverage products and the recent flurry of trademark applications.

This is a good example of how the value of a brand consists of more than just the name, but also how brands without an exclusive right to the distinctive portion of the brand identity are susceptible to legal attempts to free ride on the brand success through the copying of the non-exclusive term which consumers may associate with the brand, i.e., “SKINNY.”.

For more information or assistance on trademark matters please contact Scott Gerien at sgerien@dpf-law.com 

Copyright Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty at www.lexvini.com

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