Fight fiercely, Harvard, for all your trademarks.
Harvard University has been building its brand since the year 1636, so it's certainly understandable that they would want to protect that big old crimson "H".
All those tourists poking around "The Square" in Harvard sweatshirts, and Harvard's royalty fees really add up. Especially when you consider that a good bit of that Harvard paraphernalia is sold to those who do not now, never have, and never will have any affiliation with the University.
This puts Harvard in a position that very few academic institutions are in. I'm guessing that most people sporting gear from Slippery Rock, Liberty U, or Saint Rose College either go there, went there, hope to go there, or have a kid or sib there.
Fair Harvard's brand is a lot more potent, and it gives them a chance to extract a few pennies here and there from those who'll never fork any money over for tuition or for an alumni shakedown. This all adds up. Harvard didn't get to amass their kabillion dollar endowment by being penny foolish.
So why not go after (and win a suit against):
...a Filipino jeans manufacturer for printing “Harvard Jeans USA, Cambridge, MA, Established 1936’’ on jeans and T-shirts without a license.
No word in the Boston Globe article on Harvard trademarks on whether they actually collected anything here, or even whether they got a cease and desist. My guess is that there are still Filipino kids running around in those jeans and tee-shirts. (And in case you're wondering how nifty the Internet is, I found an English to Tagalog translation site that renders jeans as "pantalong maong " and tee-shirts as "katangan-shirts". Those fluent in Tagalog are free to comment on the accuracy of these translations.)
And I somewhat sympathize with their wanting to nip the efforts of a Costa Rican university that was hawking faux Harvard MBA classes for cheap. (My sympathy is somewhat tempered by a guess that few would mistake an echt holder of the esteemed Harvard MBA with someone who'd taken Case Study 101 online in Costa Rica. But, of course, Harvard doesn't want any hiring manager to go around muttering, 'for all his Harvard MBA courses, that putz doesn't know from nothing.' Which words have never been uttered/muttered - dare I say never will be uttered/muttered - about anyone with an authentic Harvard MBA.)
But Harvard goes well beyond trying to protect its lofty name, and the crimson (note, if you didn't the first time, the color is crimson, not red, not maroon, not burgundy) H that has come to symbolize the university.
Among the taglines they've trademarked are:
Ask what you can do
Which is used by the Kennedy School of Government.
Perhaps because JFK, or someone acting in his post mortem stead, has lent his name to the school, they believe they have some options on snippets from his speeches.
If it works for them, maybe I'll change the name of my blog to "FDR Slip", and trademark "The only thing you have to fear".
And speaking of slip, while they're at it, why doesn't Harvard grab "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" and trademark that? After all, wasn't Marilyn Monroe wearing a slip when she warbled her birthday greetings to the prez? (Or was the big deal the fact that she wasn't wearing a slip?)
The B-School also has some tagline grabs going:
The power of ideas at work
Memo to the CEO
Maybe I should pony up the trademark-ing cash and go for a few of my own business-y taglines before the good ones are all gone.
I swear I've already worked on at least one product called Infoadvantage somewhere during my career. And Harvard can have Pocket Mentor. Too close to pocket pool for my taste. But I call "lessons learned the hard way," "manage it yourself," and "memo to the CXO".
I also think I'll try to grab "the power of ideas that don't work," since I have undeniable, extensive, and demonstrable proof that I've been there, done that. (How do you think I got to "lessons learned the hard way"?)
Harvard doesn't necessarily intend to enforce their trademarked phrases, mind you. Registering them is somewhat of a pre-emptive strike. If they're going to use them, they don't want someone else who got to the trademark office first saying they can't. Harvard really shouldn't have to contend with a Filipino pantalong maong manufacturer who latched on to "ask what you can do." Nor with the Costa Rican school if they'd had the foresight to register "managing yourself" (as in 'why not try managing yourself to a few bogus Harvard B-School classes?')
Ask not how endless the possibilities could be.
Harvard also has goo-goo eyes on the phrase "the world's thinking."
...and has filed a trademark application even as it remains uncertain how the phrase will be used.
“You need to reserve something in case you intend to use it,’’ Calixto said. “We’re strategically protecting it for use at some point down the line.’’
Me, I'm going after the somewhat less pompous phrases "the world's shrinking", "the world's sinking," and "the world's drinking." And maybe, in honor of this blog, "the world's pinking."
By the way, Harvard wasn't able to claim "veritas", their motto, because there's a software company with that name.
Years ago, The Lampoon played around with "vanitas".
That one might still be available to them.
Harvard's trademark notice site is here.