There are some brands that linger in your memory because you’re eternally twelve years old, and this is one:

(Photo from Wikipedia).

Yes, Pschitt, a French citrus-flavored soda, has enchanted me since I first saw it in 1978. I’ve even blogged about it in the past.

So, following on the trend of product naming that perhaps might be, shall we say, unsettling, I offer you this:

Pschitt skincare. Or let me clarify – Pschitt Magic.

This certainly offers an excellent textbook example of what dilution by blurring might look like, but my bigger issue is that of the term’s significance in English. We trademark lawyers are always cautious about proposed marks that might mean something unsavory in a foreign language, and I’m surprised Garancia’s marketing team thought it was okay to sanction a mark that suggests to an English-speaking consumer that her treatment is nothing but “magic shit.” Between shit on my face and perfume that smells like shoes, I’m so far not seduced by French branding!

 

LOTS of magazines this time, so let’s have at it:

Is anyone else mildly disturbed by the idea of a perfume from a famous shoe designer? L’eau de Choo? To me, the Jimmy Choo brand means shoes, and shoes alone, and I think migrating the brand to fragrance could be challenging. But I guess to others, a luxury brand is a luxury brand, whether on feet or elsewhere.

 

I have been walking by this clothing shop on the rue St. Dominique in Paris for years:

It’s always seemed like a klutzy name to me (and also weirdly close to Karl Marx), so this time I thought I’d actually grab a photo and look into its story. Well, indeed, their naming story is one of the lamest I’ve ever seen: the wife of one of the founding brothers came up with the idea of making a cashmere and silk sweater bearing the first names of three great designers; the brothers then launched the brand itself, and subsequently, stores with the name.

Pardonnez-moi if I’m slightly underwhelmed by this gripping tale. Meanwhile, shouldn’t Messrs. Lagerfeld, Jacobs, and Galliano have a problem with this? Under US I would expect that publicity rights and 43(a) might kick in somehow. But here we are in France, and here Karl Marc John has been going steady since 2010. So I’ll just sit back and enjoy my memories of a delightful six days in Paris and try not to let this one gnaw at me.

Because I am a sucker for insight into lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the schadenfreude that reading about that brings, I just took advantage of a $2 subscription to Town & Country magazine. Dazzled, I tell you, I was dazzled by all of the jewels shown “price upon request” and the name-dropping of royals throughout.

I was less dazzled, I must confess, at the egregious misspelling of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris as “Bologne.” That’s a firing offense for any publication (in my exacting view of the world), but particularly in one where all things Paris are considered the ne plus ultra.

Also concerning – though more on an annoyance level – was the script used to promote this perfume from Sisley:

Well? You tell me what that first letter is. Oh, I see, it’s in the hashtag. But wait, is that an i or a lowercase L? And then I just decided,  having seen Sisley products in French department stores, that in the immortal words of my mother, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. (And perhaps recognizing the impenetrability of this script, Sisley added a more legible font to its promotion of this perfume on its website.)

Bought a shirt with this label recently:

Not so sure that’s the best branding. Poof, or poofter, is a derogatory term for a gay man. Wordnik also notes that it’s a term used by magicians to indicate a “sudden vanishing.”

Naturally, the apotheosis of both these meanings can be found in this Arrested Development clip, which I invite you to savor as much as I have.

Another fun fact: Poof can also mean the product or sound or act of flatulence! Don’t say I’m not trying to find entertainment where I can!

 

Lax blogging. Trying to get back in the saddle again. So:

A much-belated update on the family job front. My dear husband is now a partner of Seed IP Law Group, in Seattle. BUT WE DIDN’T MOVE THERE! How is that possible, you ask? Technology, my friends. Marc is connected to the office and spends a week there a month, but works 75% of the time out of our home office. He’s loving it and we’re loving reconnecting with friends and family and former colleagues in the city where we spent over 15 years of our lives together.

Why am I boring you with this? Because trademarks and stuff, of course! Pop culture!

Pop culture first, of course. Food shopping at New Seasons, the gourmet supermarket on Mercer Island that had the nerve to open only after we moved away:

Yep, they’re pretty insistent about the local provenance of their goods. Kinda made me think of this. It’s local.

Next, there’s the witty, pop-culture-referential advertising for the Puget Sound Trip Planner App:

Bad photo. It says, at the bottom, “Wherever you go, there we are.” I cannot resist a Buckaroo Banzai reference.

Finally, not even in Seattle but just because, here I manage to hit two of my main sweet spots, Francophilia and grammar/spelling errors:

WTF, people, fromage is masculine. So just because you want to be even cutesier, even Frenchier, that doesn’t mean that you make petit into petite. THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS! (This is a line we’re going to be repeating a lot these days, I fear.)

Anyway, happy New Year from the blog! This year in Barcelona, for all you INTA folks!

 

Wandering up and down Michigan Avenue, awaiting my husband’s arrival for his father’s funeral, I managed to find levity (or at least levity sufficient to float my boat, if nobody else’s) in branding at Sur la Table, a store I adore:

baked

As trademarks for baking dishes go, I have to give BAKED a thumbs-down. But Baked Occasions as a cookbook name? BAKED as a mark that is suggestive for Colorado and Washington, and now a few more states? Yeah, that just might work.

 

The second daughter is a first year at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, a haven for music and liberal arts tucked into a part of the country I never dreamed I’d visit. I’ve now been to Appleton four times, and I crack up every time I see this:

kippa-law

Is this just short for Jewish Kippa Law? Is there a skullcap specialization of which I wasn’t previously aware?

 

The second daughter has now been comfortably (if humidly) installed at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. It’s a lovely little school with an undergraduate conservatory, and we will be happy to see our daughter enjoy a music-filled liberal arts education there.

Of course, there were items of interest along the way; after the freshman convocation I spirited my husband away to the historic Stone Cellar Brewpub (no relation, alas), where I’d dined with Daughter #1 when touring Lawrence, to enjoy the food and drink that makes Wisconsin famous: beer and cheese curds.

curds

They did not disappoint. We also learned that Stone Cellar is Wisconsin’s oldest brewery still in operation. Here’s an example of a bottling from when it was the George Walter Brewing Co., circa 1918:

beer

But the time came for us to bid our daughter farewell, and after a stop to visit cousins in Illinois (the best kind of cousins – ones who own a spectacular bed & breakfast with superb food [and yes that was a shameless plug]), we were left with a long and boring drive back to Denver on I-80.

What, then, besides listening to Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends, kept us awake and motivated? Great barbecue in Des Moines, and wondering what could’ve possessed anyone to come up with this name for a fast food joint that we saw throughout Nebraska:

runza

Because all I can think of is someone saying in a crappy Italian accent, “don’t eat there, it gives you da runzas.” (Also, trademark pro tip: you don’t need to use the ® symbol every single time the mark appears on your website, particularly when you’re referring to the company rather than the stores and services they provide.)

Anyway, thanks to our younger daughter for following in her big sister’s footsteps by choosing a school outside of our customary geographic comfort range and thus allowing us to see more of the USA than we ever expected to!

 

 

My sister and brother-in-law are on an Alaska cruise, soaking up the natural beauty of the 49th state.

They’re also sending me a steady stream of photos such as this:

Alaska

And this:

Mickey Moose

What’s the deal, guys? Frontier lawlessness? Too far away to be caught?

Stick with the natural beauty, guys. It can’t be beat:

orcas

(Photos courtesy of Phyllis Stone!)

 

 

I have been complaining for as long as I’ve been traveling to France that Paris’s main airport, Charles de Gaulle, or Roissy, as it’s known locally, is a confusing, messy dump of an airport. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

But on this visit, I noticed some promising changes. Specifically, to the bathrooms in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 – they were clean and well-lighted and well-appointed, far better than I’d seen in the past.

And in Terminal 3, I was able to spot a new and interesting brand:

JUSTINESY

I thought perhaps this was some weird attempt to sound English-ified, but the etymology is in fact far less interesting; the company that owns the brand is Justinesy Frères and they’re a big hygiene products distributor; Patrick Justinesy is its chairman.

Still, I would like to think that someone at CDG besides me is just feeling a little bit, say,  justinesy, about their soap today …

The stairwell of the apartment we rented in Paris held this trademark gem:

13510459_10209423753172022_1902973996_n

You would think this would be a shining example of a brand that’s absolutely incapable of crossing the Atlantic thanks to its English meaning. (I’m not sure if its significance is the same to British English speakers; if it is, the poor mark shouldn’t even be able to cross the Channel!) However, the mark has been registered here in the US, and Puky products are apparently available for sale here in the US. I just can’t imagine how successful a product bearing that name could be. Then again, Acne Jeans are so hot these days …

 

Craft beer sales in the US, which in 2012 commanded 10% of the beer market, have reached 19% as of this year. And as this linked article indicates, it’s a battle out there between Big Beer and craft breweries to control that market. So the corporate conglomerates are trying to find interesting messaging for attracting drinkers to those mass market beers. Like this:

Stella

Now I’m all about Stella’s ad copy here (omitted due to my incompetent photo skills) – it reads “Raising the bar and everyone in it. For over 600 years.” 600 years of brewing is a long time, and you get a nice pat on the back for it. But “Be Legacy“? I suspect they’re trying to convey the message that classic or traditional or old and well-known beers should be valued for that history, which again, is a laudable sentiment. But “legacy” seems overly subtle to me. And if the “Be” part is meant to suggest Belgium, and that tagline then means Belgian Legacy, well, that’s way too subtle!

 

 

Thanks to the INTA annual meeting in May and the Rocky Mountain IP and Technology Institute in June, my brain is chock-full of trademark knowledge and case law. Hence my having to take a snap of this establishment’s name immediately:

Freezbee

That’s FreezBee, for frozen yogurt. So, if we were in the US, would that be dilution? Likelihood of dilution? Does dilution even exist? What dilutive harm could the owner of the trademark possibly assert? This may all be academic, as it looks like the FRISBEE trademark may have fallen to generic status, and its ownership is certainly flaky. Still, it’s a fun fact pattern, and evidence of where my brain goes even on vacation in Paris.

I spent my junior year of college in Paris, on Middlebury College’s year abroad program. It was an amazing, eye-opening, exciting and educational year. I made friends who are among my closest today; I honed my French, became an honorary Paris native, saw old movies, learned how to drink –  basically all one could want from a year abroad.

It’s clear to me now that my destiny as a trademark lawyer was being forged even back then – back in the early 80s, long before I thought about law school. Why? Because I was obsessed with the (then and now) hilarious English-esque brands adopted by French companies. This one never failed to elicit gales of laughter:

Flunch

We native English speakers simply couldn’t resist genericizing the term, e.g., “where should we flunch?” Yet somehow, we could never bring ourselves to flunch at Flunch. Grim fast food just wasn’t on our agenda, which probably predicted the foodies some of us are today. I’m still always amazed by the throngs in Paris at Flunch and McDo’ and their ilk. I can’t believe Flunch is still alive – but I’m glad it is so that I can relive the chuckles of my college days.

Levy summer vacation time! Yippee! This year, Paris via Copenhagen. Why Copenhagen again? Because we loved it last summer, and it was the cheapest fare from Denver. Our girls loved Tivoli, we rekindled our romance with herring at Restaurant Amalie, and generally cracked ourselves up at the incomprehensible and impenetrable Danish language.

Also, chewy candy cars:

bilar candy cars

Stay tuned for more European branding antics!

I think we’re moving past pink and frilly to encouraging full-on addiction:

comfort wine

Comfort wine / it’s anodyne /it’s not going to tax your palate / it’s just going to slide down your gullet!

Don’t get me wrong – I like my wine just fine, though two glasses are about my limit these days. But I’m midway through this excellent memoir of alcoholic life by Sarah Hepola, and really do think that some of the mommy wine marketing can be seductively destructive. Plus, I’m a wine snob, so trumpeting a chardonnay’s sweetness through the “custard” designation is never going to appeal.

I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it to determine if “custard” was accurate, because I was too embarrassed to be seen buying “comfort wine,” even for research purposes!