By Giselle Ayala Mateus and Daniela Iguaran
Think about your top-of-mind brands in the detergent category, what comes to your mind first? It may be Tide or Persil, but I am pretty sure you don’t really know what is the company or brand that manufactures and distributes these products. Well, in the case of products that are part of the large portfolio of goods this is not uncommon. That brand that consumers recognize to select several products produce or manufactured by the same company is a “House mark” The concept of “House Mark” refers to a trademark used through the company’s commercial operation to promote several products in the same general category. A house mark can be a random designation or the name of the Company in charge of the design, production, distribution, and control over the product that goes directly to the consumer when there are many intermediates involved in the process of production. This is the typical case of enterprises like APPLE or, in our detergent example, P&G or HENKEL.
A house mark does not identify a particular product. While independent and specific trademarks are used to distinguish each product in the market, the house mark identifies the provider of various classes of goods or services, covering those that are traded under specific marks. For example, in the case of cleaning products for the home, PROCTER & GAMBLE is the house or primary mark for goods, while TIDE, BOUNTY, PANTENE, and GILLETTE is the secondary marks.
Now, speaking of “house marks”, you are probably wondering how is it possible to use to marks to commercialize a product without hurting the identity of the trademarks. Well, by using simultaneously a “house mark” and, what we could call, a “product mark” a company does not diminish the validity or the strength of its intellectual property. In fact, the use of a house mark can strengthen the overall recognition of a company trademark (the “house mark”) in the market of a company also selling and distributing several kinds of goods or services, while the “product mark” competes with similar products in smaller markets. For example, APPLE is one of the biggest technology companies in the U.S. that uses several product marks to compete, such as “Apple watch”, “IMac”, “iPod”, etc. Another example is FORD and the well know FORD MUSTANG. On the other hand, by…