Destination: Maine, Memories, and My Theory of Inevitable Marks

Into each life some rain must fall; after 39 years of vacationing in Maine together, my parents’ long run ended when my father succumbed to complications of kidney failure in April. But the tradition must live on, and so I joined my mother for the annual pilgrimage to honor lobster, shopping, and really long walks on the beach, and a now 40-year tradition.

The lobster, shopping, and long walks on the beach were, as advertised, unparalleled. And it had been years since I’d savored the joys of New England ice cream; I will report that the Bay of Figs ice cream at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream was possibly the best I’ve ever tasted.

And then there were the Maine-centric trademarks, two to be precise, that reignited my interest in defining a theory of what I call “inevitable marks” – marks that are logical, inevitable plays on words based on a feature of the goods or services, or of their geographic origin. You could think of it as a subset of descriptive terms but I like to think of them more as inevitable – insofar as it’s an inevitability that someone will come up with this idea for a mark or business name.

For Exhibit A, I can think of nothing better than this:

 

(I kept the picture large because the dude really was out of central casting.)
Maine Squeeze for a juice bar? It’s a natural, right? I’m sure there’s a Maine Event for a hair salon too. (Okay, there is, but it’s in Florida, so that makes no sense and opens a branding opportunity in Maine, right?)

And then this one:

I can’t deny that it’s clever – but it’s just never going to be protectable beyond the instantaneous recognition of that cleverness.  Why? It’s meat in Maine. But again, clever. As any name in Maine that uses the state’s two-letter ME abbreviation would be (ME Time for a spa, perhaps?) But that’s still going to be geographically descriptive, and lots of Mainers will want to use ME as a prefix, and should be able to.

Anyway, as you can see, I’m still formulating my inevitable marks theory, and was glad to have the opportunity to do so on a road trip with Mom where we could reminisce about Dad.

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