My Famous Blog Post (R)

By Mark McKenna

A couple of days ago I received an email from Restoration Hardware advertising its Famous Fall Lighting Sale(R). On top of my mild annoyance at yet another piece of spam, I couldn’t help but ask: “Are you serious?”

Are they seriously claiming that they’ve registered “Famous Fall Lighting Sale” as a trademark? Well, they have. And I’m almost speechless.

It’s not so much that I can’t believe they were able to register this laudatory/descriptive phrase – I rarely can work up much indignation about the things that the PTO will register these days. I’m speechless because I cannot figure out what value claiming this mark possibly could add to Restoration Hardware’s business. Seriously, the scope of protection for this phrase has to be incredibly narrow. They can’t stop other companies from advertising their “fall lighting sales” and I doubt they could even stop someone from saying that have a “famous fall lighting sale,” if in fact they do. But even if they could, do they really think that this mark matters to consumers whatsoever? Ooh, another retailer claiming that their sale is “famous” – that’ll really pack ’em in!

It strikes me that some lawyer convinced them that they needed to register this thing, so they did. But it probably also reflects how branding has gone completely haywire. I hope they don’t sue me for the title of this post.