Medina Spirit's first stop after crossing the finish line at Churchill Downs is of course the Winner’s Circle. The second stop should be a call with a trademark attorney. The Kentucky Derby purse and the potential for the purses of Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are just the beginning of the potential windfall for the owners of a Derby winner.
In most cases a three-year-old thoroughbred is not trademarked at the time of the running of the Kentucky Derby. Until winning the Derby there may not be too many profitable reasons to justify a federal trademark, and further, the Jockey Club’s process of naming newly born thoroughbreds keeps check of the name registry. Read our post about the similarities between the naming process of the Jockey Club's and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) here.
However, once the blanket of 400 roses has been placed on the back of the celebrated winner, that thoroughbred’s name is instantly famous, valuable and most of all, vulnerable to knockoffs. This level of fame of a single horse creates an immediate market for all types of goods and services for which a federal trademark will be necessary to protect.
At the time of the trademark application filing, the owners of the horse will not yet be selling goods or services in interstate commerce, which is a requirement to complete a federal trademark registration. However, because the USPTO allows applications for those “intending to use” a trademark, a quick application filing is possible. So, what are some of the classifications that a Kentucky Derby winner would want to apply for? An experienced and creative trademark attorney will understand that there are goods that can be sold immediately, and possibly even more importantly, there are extremely valuable services that can be provide in the future.
Goods Kentucky Derby WinnerS SHOULD TRADEMARK
In the history of the Kentucky Derby, which was first run in 1875, only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown. Until 2015, the most recent Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. Upon American’ Pharoah’s win in 2015 and Justify’s win in 2018, the excitement for the extremely difficult three-part race was reignited. This excitement helps drive the demand for fan products like t-shirts, hats, visors, tote bags, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, photos, postcards, calendars, and paintings.
Applying for a trademark early will be important for purposes of expedited licensing agreements, which will be sought by the likes of Breyer model horses and possibly even documentary and movie producers. During the immediate excitement of the Derby win, the owners of the horse are most likely to sell large amounts of t-shirts, ties, plush toys, hats, rubber wristbands and ornaments. However, there are several goods and services that should be applied for as a long-term outlook for the profitability of the horse’s name.
Long-Term Services Kentucky Derby WinneRS SHOULD TRADEMARK
The excitement of the Kentucky Derby win can only last so long. This profitability is surely extended by a Preakness win and much more by a Triple Crown win. But at some point, especially by the next year’s Derby, the demand for t-shirts, calendars, giftwrap, hats and tote bags has worn down. However, this may be the point where the horse’s name becomes most valuable.
Thoroughbreds are just three years old during their Triple Crown season, and the winner of any or all the races will likely retire from the track after the Belmont Stakes. This is also the point where some of the most valuable assets can be provided. These assets are typically breeding services and book, documentary, and movie deals. In addition to the classes that cover all the goods listed above, a trademark attorney should be applying for registry under a Section 1(b) Intent to Use application for these valuable equine services.
Additionally, utilizing the fame of the horse can be a great way to bring awareness and growth to the horse racing industry through charitable funds for the creation of second careers or comfortable retirement for race horses. Derby owners may feel encouraged to also apply for trademark registration for charitable services, because we all want Derby winners and all race horses to have long, happy careers and retirements.
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Monica Ugliuzza, Esq.
Monica is an attorney with a practice dedicated exclusively to trademark law. Monica is the founder and owner of Creative Law Studio, a law firm with creative minds to best serve creative clientele. Creative Law Studio is able to serve clients with a wide-range of budgets, due to the firm's boutique, web-based presence. Creative Law Studio is committed to providing excellent counseling to our clients and we get just as excited about your trademark as you do.
Disclaimer: This blog/website is intended to be published for educational and entertainment purposes and to give readers a general idea of the law of trademark. This blog/website is not intended to give any specific legal advice or to target a specific person. Readership of this blog cannot create an attorney-client relationship between you and the publisher. This blog should never be used to substitute the seeking out of personal, legal advice. The discussion of an existing or potential trademark shall not be taken as an endorsement by creative law studio, nor shall the same be taken as an endorsement of creative law studio. The discussion of specific trademarks does not mean that creative law studio is a record attorney for such trademarks.