Is There Value in Brands that Have Been Retired?


We’ve been hearing about the retired brand auction for some time now, and it’s something we were interested in.  BVR handles inquiries every month, especially by users of the popular ktMine database of royalty rates and licenses, regarding the existence of any pure marketplaces for IP. The occasional Ocean Tomo / IPAC auctions come to mind, but there are really no useful databases of IP transaction data.  Last week, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, Brands USA Holdings employed Racebrook Marketing Concepts to auction off what was termed by the lay press as “retired brands,” in effect, old corporate names. Brands USA Holdings did not own the brands, but rather had filed intent-to-use forms for them with USPTO, and what was for sale was the ownership of those applications.

The blogosphere was skeptical. One opinion called it an auction of “failed brands, signifying nothing.”  Another went further: “Nobody should bid on these brands. They have negative value. They are associated with things that became obsolete, many failed. Brand value lies in delivering a future promise, not representing antiquated businesses.” One attendee referred to it as “the land of broken toys.” Still another legal blogger cautioned buyers that ownership of these names (or their legal availability) may not be what it seems, stressing the nature of “intent-to-use” applications.

Nonetheless, theoretically available for purchase were 170 product and corporate names that are no longer being used (see below), and since there is a dearth of transaction data with respect to IP, this serves to give us a glimpse of interest in older brands, if nothing else. According to first-hand reports, the auction lasted about an hour, and in-person and online bidders were welcome.

Perhaps a dozen brands were actually purchased. We only know of some results by virtue of first-hand reports, as the proceedings were wrapped in confidentiality. The total of the winning bids was estimated at less than $150,000, undoubtedly a huge disappointment. “Shearson” secured the highest bid, $45,000, while “Meister Brau,” the pre-auction favorite, was purchased for $32,500, followed closely by “Handi-Wrap.”

One name of interest to me was AlliedSignal, as in a previous life I knew some of their executives. Honeywell purchased AlliedSignal and retired the name back in 1999 for $15B.   At this auction, “AlliedSignal” was bundled with “American Petrofina” and sold for … $1,000. (“Infoseek” outpulled this, selling for a reported $2,000, as did “Colliers.”)

Here were the applications for sale (though they were labeled “trademarks”):

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS

  • Bowery
  • Continental Illinois
  • Shearson
  • Girard Bank
  • Financial Corporation Of America
  • Kuhn Loeb
  • HBOS
CANDY
  • Big Yank
  • Fruit Bombs
  • Kool Shake
  • Old Nick
  • Pom Poms
  • Rocky Rounds
FOOD
  • American Brands
  • Allsweet (Sweetners)
  • Breakfast Mates
  • Cheez Kisses
  • Cocomalt
  • Crustquick
  • Lucky Whip (Topping)
  • Snack Mate
  • Snow Crop
  • Splitabanana
  • Squeeze A Snack
  • Stir 'N Frost
BEVERAGE
  • American Brands
  • Barrelhead
  • Fox Head
  • National Premium
  • Old Soda Shoppe
  • Meister Brau
RETAIL
  • America's Brands (General Merch)
  • Beauty And The Bath (General Merch)
  • Punch For Value (General Merch)
  • Computer City (Computers)
  • Computer Vision (Computers)
  • Intelligent Electronics (Electronics)
  • Incredible Universe (Electronics)
  • Handy Dan (Home Improvement)
  • The Linen Closet (Home Furnishings)
  • Office Etc. (Office Products)
  • Child World (Toys)
  • Kiddie City (Toys)
  • Circus World (Toys)
  • Cosmetics Plus (Cosmetics)
  • Cosmetically Yours (Cosmetics)
  • Pharmhouse (Pharmacy)
  • Phar-Mor (Pharmacy)
  • Rx Place (Pharmacy)
  • Sterling Drug (Pharmacy)
  • The Medicine Cabinet (Pharmacy)
OIL & GAS/ENERGY EXPLORATION
  • Cleaner Greener
  • Sky Chief
  • Homestake Mining
  • Purely Green
  • American Petrofina
HAIR CARE
  • Everynight
  • Kindness
  • Long & Silky
  • Lustre Crème
  • Permastrate
  • Short & Sassy
  • Whistle Clean
  • First Brands
SUN TAN
  • Bronze Lustre
  • Sudden Tan
  • Sun 'N Surf
BATH
  • Showermate
COSMETICS
  • American Brands
  • Cosmetics Plus
  • Cosmetically Yours
  • Futurama
  • Jacqueline Cochran
  • Lip Kissers
  • Nail Slickers
DEODORANTS
  • Mum
  • Stopette
HAIR REMOVAL
  • Lady-Go-Lightly
  • Nudit
SHAVING
  • Eversharp
  • Rapid Shave
WEIGHT LOSS, DIET & EXERCISE
  • Relaxacizor
  • Slenderella
MAGAZINE
  • Changing Times
  • Collier's
  • Punch
  • Saturday Review
APPAREL
  • American Brands
  • America's Brands
  • Child World
  • Hot Pants
  • Bobby Socks
  • H.I.S.
  • Black Belt
  • London Britches
  • Anna Karenina
  • Knickerbockers
  • Discowear
  • Mister John
  • Paris Elegant
  • Annie Hall
  • Edwardian
  • Hippy
  • Mondrian
  • Poiret
  • Page Boy
  • Patchwork
  • Fair Isle
  • Flamenco Fashion
  • Fashion Workshop
  • Basque
  • Art Noveau
  • Paquin
  • Joan Of Arc
  • Bruneleschi
  • Lazy Bones
  • Jonathan Logan
  • Jacqueline Cochran
  • Continental Brands
  • Pacific Brands
HOME FURNISHINGS
  • Decorators Dream
  • Design My Home
  • We Make The Room
HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS
  • American Brands (Cleaning Products)
  • America's Home Products (Cleaning Products)
  • Handi Wrap (Plastic Wrap)
  • Kitten Soft (Facial Tissues, Paper Towels)
  • Rain Barrel (Detergent; Fabric Softener)
  • First Brands (Cleaning Products)
  • Finito (Pesticide; Insect Repellent)
  • Party Tyme (Cocktail Shakers)
  • Kindness (Hair Dryers)
  • Ecologreen (Cleaning Products)
  • Greenergy (Cleaning Products)
  • Cleaner Greener (Cleaning Products)
  • Launderall
RESTAURANT
  • Rustler
AIRLINE
  • Boac
  • Braniff
SPORTS
  • Bums
  • Sports Heroes
  • American Brands
TOYS
  • Child World
  • Kiddie City
  • Circus World
PET PRODUCTS
  • Burgerbits
  • Litter Green
TECHNOLOGY
  • Victrola (Audio/Video, Computers, Telephones)
  • Phonola (Audio/Video, Telephones)
  • Intelligent Electronics (Audio/Video, Telephones)
  • Allied Signal (Computers, Telephones)
  • Infoseek (Search Engine)
  • Control Data (Audio/Video, Telephones)
  • General Instrument (Audio/Video, Telephones)
  • Pacific Brands (Audio/Video, Telephones)
  • Continental Brands (Audio/Video, Telephones)
MEDICINE/DRUGS
  • American Brands
  • America's Home Products
  • Pharmhouse
  • Phar-Mor
  • Rx Place
  • Sterling Drug
  • The Medicine Cabinet
  • Seniority
MARKETING/ADVERTISING
  • Pacific Resources
PARTY GOODS
  • Party Tyme
AUTOMOTIVE
  • American Brands
  • American Brands Made By American Hands
  • America's Brands
  • Cleanergy
  • Electro
  • Stars & Stripes
MOVIE THEATER
  • General Cinema
PAPER GOODS
  • Champion International
  • Kitten Soft


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