As we all return to work we have a wintry story from Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.
In a town called Toyokoro lumps of ice lie scattered across the beach. They shine like diamonds in the day and glow under the setting sun. They are formed when the mouth of the frozen rover Tokachi is tumbled by ocean waves. The locals call it ‘jewelry ice’ or ‘jewel ice’ and when the ice is there from January to February they post frequent updates about their state on the Toyokoro website. Now the council has decided to trade mark ‘jewel ice’ to prevent any company from monopolising the name for their own purpose as the ice continues to draw tourists to the town. Initially the applications were rejected on the basis that the words ‘jewel ice’ were descriptive, but evidence that the government had been using the terms on its promotional literature for the town helped get the mark past the registry officials.
The town will use the trade mark for a wide variety of activities intended to draw more visitors. It has also stated that it does not seeks to ban the use of the words altogether and wanted people to be able to use the words freely. The council does however wish anyone who wants to make products using the name to apply to the town for permission. This could be an effective way of generating income for the town while at the same time having a say in the quality of merchandise which gets sold under that name.
While we are lacking new natural wonders, the advantages to securing trade marks on tourist attractions have not gone unnoticed here. The London Eye which took its first paying passengers in 2000 was registered as a trade mark by its owners Merlin Attractions in 2010. The Shard, The Gherkin and The Cheesegrater are all registered marks. The Tower of London was first registered as a logo mark in 1890 and more recently by Flitcham Limited, a company connected to the historic Royal Palaces as a word mark covering the whole of the European Union.
For more information on the use of images or references to tourist attractions in your business literature do get in touch.
Written by Margaret Briffa
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