Development of a brand through trade mark protection
A Dr Martens case study

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Page 3: Trade Marks

Dr Martens 2 Image 2The primary purpose of Trade Marks is to identify the proprietor to the consumer and to provide the consumer with an indicator that the company’s reputation for providing good quality goods, can be associated with the product. When choosing a word Trade Mark, a number of pointers have to be considered. The mark should be easy to remember and pronounce and able to be presented in a graphic form i.e. a logo, phrase or slogan. The distinctive Trade Mark - AirWair (script device), AirWair with Bouncing Soles (ball device) was developed by Bill Griggs, the former Chairman of R Griggs & Co. Ltd. The AirWair with Bouncing Soles heel loop, in its present distinctive black and yellow form was developed by R Griggs, for introduction in the early 1960s.

The branding of the footwear was vital in establishing consumer recognition of the Company’s products and the name of AirWair and to indicate that the name could be associated with a reputation for hard wearing, good quality, value for money footwear. Over the years, the increasing importance and value of the AirWair marks as assets of the Company necessitated that Trade Mark protection for both the word and logo forms be sought. Initially, protection was applied for in the UK, but as export markets developed, so did the importance of protecting the AirWair marks internationally for Griggs’ exclusive use.

Now that the Community Trade Mark Office has opened in Alicante, it is possible to apply for a Community Trade Mark which offers protection through the European Union. In addition, the Madrid Protocol provides a means for a single international application to lead to multiple national registrations and the Paris Convention creates a right of priority for a short period after registration of a Mark in another Convention country.

History and protection of the dr. martens trade mark

The Dr. Martens Trade Mark is owned by the German families of the designers of the original Dr. Maertens Air Cushion Sole. The mark is licensed to the R Griggs Group Ltd for its world-wide exclusive use, and has been the subject of Utilisation and Licence Agreements between the respective companies since the 1960s. (Note that the original name Maertens was anglicised as pronunciation difficulties were anticipated in England.)

When production of Dr. Martens began, Trade Mark protection for this mark - as with AirWair (and variants) was required and the German company applied for protection of this mark. All Dr. Martens Air Cushion Soles have borne this Trade Mark. As international markets have been developed, so has the necessity for adequate Trade Mark protection for the core footwear product in the form of word mark protection for the basic and variant marks. Apart from the word mark Dr. Martens, there are other variants such as

Doc’s, DM’s, Doc Martens and the Dr. Martens Resistance Rectangle, which are registered marks. Most of these have been adopted because of the consumer referring to the product under these variants and in the case of the Resistance Rectangle this mark has been applied to many of the classic Dr. Martens footwear styles since 1960.

Dr Martens | Development of a brand through trade mark protection