History of the Origin of Trademarks (part 2)

continuation… previous post http://ipinrussia.com/2018/06/11/history-of-the-origin-of-trademarks-part-one/

A number of authors associate the history of trademark appearance and development in England just with marking of precious metals. Thus, John Bly, an English researcher, in his work “Discovering Hallmarks on English Silver” notices that the law of King Edward I, as adopted in 1300, prohibited to sell gold and silver articles without a special mark guaranteeing quality of respective products. Articles without an assay office mark were destroyed, and those who dared to falsify marks were subjected to death penalty. This special mark was named as “King’s mark” or “leopard’s head”. Edward III, King of England, went even further in his law of 1363 by obliging each jeweler to have his own mark.

In spite of all decrees, marking of products in the Middle Ages was quite irregular. This can be explained by the fact that goods often were hardly distinguishable, since they sold by weight. Only well-known craftsmen used marking, who, in order to individualize their products, stamped them with their marks, such marks forming a part of the design. Little-known craftsmen  preferred not to mark their products until achieving good reputation in business. Marks were made in the form of paintings, since the European population was mostly  illiterate. Craftsmen valued their marks so high that even did not transmit them to their heirs. Due to this, a mark was destroyed after the craftsman’s death or buried with the owner.

A signboard also was a trademark precursor. In the beginning, it was a pole with an object that denoted a kind of the service provided or availability of certain goods. Thus, a blacksmith placed a pole with a wheel on top of it near his shop, and an owner of a victualling-house hanged out a household item on a pole near his gate. A shoemaker hanged out an image of shoes over the entrance door, and a tailor put things denoting his craft, e.g., a needle, a thread and scissors, on the shop window. So, signboards played the information role, since they informed potential clients about the availability of goods or the possibility of providing services.

Further, combatants in the medieval chivalrous tournaments should somehow individualize their appearance. For this purpose, their shields were provided with coined coats of arms which were registered by heralds. Those coats of arms may be also reasonably regarded as precursors of trademarks. This may be proved by the fact that until now many trademarks comprise mostly non-protected heraldic elements, such as shields, images of fantastic animals, crowns, ribbons, Maltese crosses, mottos, etc.

Since XIV to XIX century typical advertising signs of one or another craft were used in England. A pole with red and white ribbons served as the symbol of a barber, with three pieces of sugar – a grocer, with three balls — a money-lender, and with an image of a Scot in the national clothes – a tobacconist.

With development of the urban culture and increase in a number of literate people, word signs appeared on signboards, which indicated the name of the facility owner, his occupation or the kind of goods sold, as well as names of partners and other information.

With the course of time, names began appearing on signboards, which may be characterized as play on words, puns caused by fashion and designed for the client’s imagination. The sign “Le Chat qui Pelote” (“The cat and racket”) В may be cited as an example, which was the preimage of the modern slogan Le Vache qui rit (“The Laughing Cow”) for marking milk and processed cheese products.

In the service sector, the name of a sign was of higher importance than marking of a certain kind of goods. A craftsman put his name on goods as the quality guarantor, but it was insufficient for owners of taverns, hotels and restaurants, since taverns could pass from one owner to another, and a hotel could be set up by any businessman. As a result, owners from various fields of services competed with each other. Names such as “Golden Lion”, “Golden Cock”, “Golden Bull”, “Golden Eagle”, “Golden Arrow”, etc. were frequently used as names of medieval hotels. According to T.A. Soboleva, hotels named after monarchs such as “King Henry VIII”, “Old King John”, “King Alfred”, “King and Queen”, and the like were most popular in England. The use of royal person names allegedly stood for high quality of service.

In the age of industrial revolution, trademarks were born for the second time. During that period the transition from the agrarian society to the industrial society occurred. The trademark gradually began associating not only with a means for individualizing goods and services, but also with a means of advertising. Staring from the XVIII century, the regular marking of products became normal. By that time it already performed not only the function of differentiating similar goods, but also served as a means of the  legal protection of the manufacturer against unfair competition. However, the practice of using marks was not supported by sufficient legal regulation from the state yet.

The state support of manufacturers of goods and providers of services in the form of protection of their marks and the introduction of criminal and civil liability for unauthorized use of somebody’s else marks appeared in the XIX century in the form of legislative acts stipulating certain sanctions for counterfeiting or use of a somebody’s else trademark. In particular, in the period from 1857 to 1900 all industrially developed countries in the world adopted special laws relating to trademarks. The first in the list of these countries was France (1857). This example was followed by other countries: Italy (1868), Great Britain (1875), Belgium (1879), the USA (1870). Later, the law adopted in the USA was recognized as unconstitutional and abolished, the new one appeared only in 1881.

The law, as adopted in Great Britain in 1875, stipulated the procedure of registering trademarks as well as attested the right of trademark owners to sue those who infringed their exclusive rights. In accordance with this law, the Trademark Registrar’s Office was established in England on January 1, 1876. The first officially registered trademark was “red triangle” of the Bass & Co Brewery. It is worth noting that this company fixed more than 2,000 cases of counterfeiting their mark. Later, in 1898, the Pepsi Cola trademark was registered, which design was changed from time to time, until in 1996 it was transformed in the well-known image of a children’s ball.

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