Trademarks in Telemark: Five Brands and Other Things to Look For at PTMG in Oslo

SUMMARY

I am excited to be traveling to Norway next week to attend my first conference of the Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Group in Oslo. Not having been to PTMG before, I can’t offer much insight on the conference, but since I lived in Oslo for a year many years ago, I do have a bit to say about the host city. In the spirit of a smorgasbord, here are five things I’m looking forward to about the trip,... (see full summary)

 
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I am excited to be traveling to Norway next week to attend my first conference of the Pharmaceutical Trade Marks Group in Oslo. Not having been to PTMG before, I can’t offer much insight on the conference, but since I lived in Oslo for a year many years ago, I do have a bit to say about the host city. In the spirit of a smorgasbord, here are five things I’m looking forward to about the trip, with a little Norwegian trademark trivia thrown in.

  1. Holmenkollen

The ski jump at Holmenkollen, which overlooks Oslo from a ritzy hilltop neighborhood, offers stunning views over the city and the fjord. Jutting up from a mountainside and visible from miles around, it has always been a beacon of welcome whenever I approach Oslo by air or sea. There has been a ski jump at Holmenkollen since 1892, and it has been the site of an annual ski festival and competition since that time. However, since the last time I visited, the Holmenkollbakken I knew has been demolished (it was too small to host modern World Championship events) and replaced by a sleek new version, completed in 2010. The cantilevered design looks amazing in photos, and I can’t wait to see it in person. I am glad to see that visitors are still allowed to ascend to the top of the jump tower for a panorama over the city and a dizzying view straight down the slope.

HOLMENKOLLEN was in fact registered as a trademark in the U.S. in the 1970s in connection with skis, ski poles, and ski boots. The brand was manufactured by the Åsnes Ski Factory in Norway for the U.S. market, but the mark is no longer in use, and the registration has expired.

  1. Skis

If you find old skis intriguing, the Ski Museum at the base of the Holmenkollen ski jump, the world’s oldest museum dedicated to skiing, is also worth a visit. Modern skiing was, of course, invented in Scandinavia, and exported from there around the world, including to the U.S. It turns out that a bit of history about the introduction of cross-country skiing to the States can be gleaned from a 1981 decision of the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) concerning the mark TRAK for cross-country skis and boots. According to the decision, the opposer, a cross-country ski company called Trak, was founded in 1970 by two former Procter & Gamble “marketing men” who had “learned from a Norwegian [Harvard Business School] classmate about the sport of cross-country skiing and the substantial interest expressed by New Englanders in his personal cross-country skiing activities.” Apparently, this wacky Norwegian business student skiing around Cambridge, Massachusetts helped to inspire an entire new sport and industry in the northern U.S.

In the TTAB proceeding, Trak managed to successfully oppose another sporting-goods company’s application to register TRAQ for racquetball rackets. Trak overcame the argument that TRAK was weak as applied to cross-country skis because it suggested the “tracks” in which skis glide over the snow. Trak appears to have been quite an innovative and brand-aware company. It also developed a successful fish-scale design for the bottom of its skis, which obviated the need to select and apply ski wax based on snow quality and temperature. The company then obtained trademark...

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