How to protect your corporate identity through slogans

A slogan is a short phrase that carries an idea, describes and characterises a company’s policy and says something to the consumer (eg, adidas’s ‘Impossible is Nothing’ slogan). 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 a slogan is a dynamic designation, which changes with the needs of customers under the right internal company policy. For example, the well-known Nike slogan ‘Just do it!’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘Taste the Feeling’ changed as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. Nike now calls for ‘Play inside, play for the world’, while Coca-Cola declares ‘Be Open Like Never Before’.

Often, a company will use a slogan alongside a trademark. However, slogans, as well as simple verbal trademarks, may become the subject of unfair actions by offenders. This raises the logical question – can a rights holder protect its slogan?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. The Russian Trademark Law does not prohibit the registration of trademarks consisting of three or four words. Therefore, provided that other requirements are met, a slogan can be registered as a trademark. This is exactly what Nike did, securing the famous ‘Just do it!’ slogan the status of a trademark in Russia.

How companies can boost their brand

Modern marketing strategies require that manufacturers not only provide high-quality products, but also follow the promotional and popularisation models of their brands. In this case, the elements that form a company’s image include:

  • brand names;
  • trademarks and other means of individualisation;
  • logos;
  • slogans; and
  • business reputation and other intangible assets of the enterprise that affect its image.

Some of these elements (eg, logos and trademarks) can be registered at the Russia Patent and Trademark Office (Rospatent) and provide recognition of the owner’s rights at the national level. Other elements (eg, the company’s reputation) are not subject to registration, but this does not mean that such concepts are not recognised.

The difference in legal protection regimes affects the degree of protection available to an object. Official registration or another way of certifying rights (eg, escrow) makes it possible to clearly identify the owner's property, determine the date from which ownership began and confirm the owner’s exclusive rights. This makes it easier to prove a person’s entitlement to certain rights and the protection of interests in registered intangible assets becomes more effective.

Articles 1477 to 1515 of the Russian Civil Code deal with trademark and service mark rights. Here, trademarks also include verbal designations. Therefore, rights holders would be wise to consider registering their most popular slogans at Rospatent before the chance for dispute arises.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of WTR's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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