Destination: The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Well, I missed my 25th reunion but at least managed to get to Providence and Newport, RI, and Westport, MA, in the reunion year.  The girls and I enjoyed our friends’ 18th-century home, digging for horseshoe crabs and shells at the beach, and I tried to figure out how to get my body to handle humidity again.

Of course, there was a bit of touring.  Chief among the highlights on the trip was the excursion to Dartmouth, Mass., and the marvels of the Christmas Tree Shops store.  Any retail establishment with a slogan (registered!)like DON’T YOU JUST LOVE A BARGAIN? is a siren call to me, of course, but this one was junk shopping paradise.  Had I not been traveling carry-on only (after the Heathrow debacle of the spring, natch), it could’ve been a pricey trip.  As it was, I managed to spend $33, pass a delightful hour there, and come home with dish towels, potholders, paper lanterns, cocktail napkins, potentially counterfeit foam clogs for the other trademark lawyer in the family to examine, and a charming cow-shaped bag for stashing supermarket shopping bags, all cleverly secreted in my luggage.

But what I didn’t buy was so thrillingly emblematic of the store and its commitment to quality that I must share it:

                                                                                    

At only $1.99 it was so darn tempting, but I had to refrain.  The girls needed sweatshirts from Brown (yes, they now aspire to follow in Mom’s footsteps there, but I keep reminding them that knowing their multiplication tables will really go far to ensuring even initial consideration) and I just had a horror of checking baggage through O’Hare.  So the photographic memory will have to suffice.

But it wasn’t just shopping and wet towels.  The stroll down memory lane at Brown was thrilling (was it really that small?), and the visit to the Touro Synagogue in Newport moving, particularly George Washington’s assurances to the small congregation back in 1790 that the then-infant nation would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”  Wise to remember that today.

Next stop: A return to Seattle!

Marketing 1, trademark lawyers 0

Introducing JetBlue’s new slogan: Happy Jetting!  With website sections titled “Are you a flyer or a jetter?” “The Rise of Jetting,” and statements like “JetBlue brings humanity back to the skies with a new form of aviation called ‘jetting,'” “Explore the many ways of jetting,” and a triumphant phallic-appearing announcement that “Today Jetting Rocks,” JetBlue is clearly trying to generate enthusiasm in a hungry, thirsty, crowded, tired, smelly and overcharged flying public. 

From a trademark perspective?  Not so much.  In fact, they’ve pretty much violated every rule in the Jessica Stone Levy book of trademark selection.  JetBlue has: (a) taken a colloquial term used in the English language by consumers of the services; (b) defined their view of “jetting” exhaustively in marketing materials;  and (c) used other formatives of the word (e.g., jetter).  If,  for example, a competitor were to use a slogan like “I jet around,” or “Jetting off to Cabo was never easier,” and JetBlue sued, I’d say those three actions above would be Exhibit A in that competitor’s defense.

This campaign reeks of the trademark-antithetical “branding initiative,” launched by marketers with little concern for the practical aspects of securing trademark registration and more importantly, of acquiring and enforcing trademark rights.  Paradoxically, after reviewing Jet Blue’s full website, I think the campaign is actually quite clever and entertaining, and if Jet Blue can be the rising tide to lift planes (?) in this horrible market, more power to them.  Just don’t think that you can then turn around and be a trademark bully with the trademark rights equivalent of a pair of batacas.