I regularly watch The Colbert Report on Comedy Central and thoroughly enjoyed his tribute to the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In anticipation of the movie, Stephen Colbert, a self-proclaimed Hobbit-head, visited the movie set in New Zealand and planned for a week of Hobbit-themed programs. With his set restyled after Bilbo Baggins’ Bag End home in the Shire, he interviewed the movie’s actors and director.
On Night Three, he parodied an amazing licensing feat: Denny’s, America’s diner chain, created a breakfast menu including a Shire Skillet and Hobbit Holes using the Hobbit mark. Colbert deftly juxtaposed Professor Tolkien’s myth-based realms and characters with the banality of Denny’s menu, concocting Gandalf’s Gobblemelt and the Ring Burger to make his point.
The Saul Zaentz Company owns multiple registrations and applications for the HOBBIT, THE HOBBIT, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY marks for goods and services that include clothing, tours, axes and swords, backpacks and other travel bags, toys, etc. Kudos to the imagination of the Saul Zaentz Company and Denny’s for a creative licensing deal that tickled many a Hobbit fan’s appetite with food and fun.
A word about trademark licensing: When you have an established brand that screams for ancillary products, think through a strategy to register your trademark and mass merchandise the related products. Consider whether you are better suited to manufacture and distribute such products yourself, or whether you prefer to license your mark to third parties, who may have stronger, established manufacturing capabilities and distribution networks. If you elect to license your mark, keep in mind that you need a written agreement; a key to protecting your trademark is strong quality controls.
Quality controls in trademark licensing are fundamental because a trademark represents its owner’s reputation for goods and services of a certain level of quality. That is, one function of a trademark is as shorthand to consumers that communicates a level of quality which enables consumers to easily make purchasing decisions. In fact, if a licensor does not exercise sufficient control over the quality of the goods and services offered by its licensee, the trademark may be considered may be vulnerable to attack or even may be considered abandoned.
And if you’re hungry for more about this topic, please see news about the man who ate the entire Hobbit-themed menu in 20 minutes.