June was an eventful month for the trademark industry. Two major corporations – Tesla and Starbucks – filed somewhat unusual trademark applications.
First, the coffee giant applied for stadium naming rights. According to Starbucks, the move aims to ‘promote business, sports and entertainment events of others’ and to provide ‘stadium and training facilities for sports and entertainment activities’.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk filed a new trademark for restaurant services. If approved, Tesla can finally follow through with its plan of opening ‘50s-style diners in Supercharger locations in Los Angeles.
Starbucks filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the right to use its name on stadiums, sports training facilities and other related entertainment spaces. If approved, the coffee brand could lend its name to and become a corporate sponsor of sports arenas and stadiums.
Many companies are willing to pay top dollar for stadium naming rights because of the fan loyalty and brand awareness they can raise by attaching their names to high-profile venues. When a brand buys naming rights to a stadium, the facility can be named after the business or one of its products. The rights provide free, repeated brand exposure on radio, TV, websites, newspapers and magazines whenever the stadium is mentioned by media outlets.
Some of the popular brands that have stadium naming rights are FedEx, Little Caesars and Barclays. If the application is approved, Starbucks will become a corporate stadium sponsor just like these brands.
Tesla applied for three new trademarks with the USPTO that cover the following categories: restaurant services, pop-restaurants, self-service restaurants and take-out restaurants services. The application features the company’s iconic ‘T’ logo, the word ‘Tesla’ and stylised versions of it.
The electric vehicle company’s attempt to expand to the restaurant industry may be surprising for some people, but it’s actually a concept that Tesla has been considering since at least 2017.
In the 2017 FSTEC restaurant-technology conference, then-CTO JB Straubel revealed that the plug-in stations for roadside recharges that Tesla was constructing are evolving into rest stops that serve food as well. People spend 20 to 30 minutes at these stops, so they would naturally want to grab a snack or have a cup of coffee as they wait for their cars to finish charging.
Tesla tried out a scaled-down version of the rest stop idea at its Kettleman City, California Supercharger station, which has a private customer lounge. In 2018, however, Elon Musk tweeted a much grander concept – a restaurant with an old-school drive-in and a roller-skating rink.
If the application is approved, the company could be well on its way to building its Supercharger restaurant stations.
These decisions by Starbucks and Tesla show how carefully big, established brands protect their name and distinctiveness. Even as they tap new markets, they think of how they can bring their identity with the expansion and prevent brand dilution.
Ultimately, owning a trademark can inspire almost instant recognition among consumers, strengthening your distinctiveness in your industry.
For more trademark news, browse through the Pinnacle TMS blog. Pinnacle TMS is a trademark specialist, helping out with all related matters, including registration and management.
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