safe - trademark secrecy One of the potential downsides of filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is that the application, including the identity of the owner, is of public record, accessible to anybody.

If secrecy is important to your company’s marketing strategy then filing a trademark application is not an act to be taken lightly. So, if you are, say, Apple Computer, and you rely upon the anticipation of the product announcement to build up market hype and eventually sales, you will need to keep your trademark filings secret until the product announcement. How do you do that without spilling the beans?

The tried technique for maintaining secrecy is to create a dummy corporation that no one will recognize for filing your trademark applications.  Once the need for secrecy evaporates, the dummy corporation assigns the trademark to its true owner.  Apple, in fact, uses this technique. AppleInsider recently reported that a Delaware corporation called BrightFlash USA LLC recently filed a host of trademark applications for the iWatch trademark.  (Okay, everybody knows or thinks they know that Apple will be releasing a new product called the iWatch so what’s the point of keeping it secret? I guess it’s because nobody knows for sure.)

It’s not completely clear whether BrightFlash is actually an Apple Computer surrogate, however, numerous trademark filings for iWatch in the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, and Denmark, strongly suggest that Apple may be behind the trademark applications. AppleInsider also reported that there were numerous applications filed by BrightFlash for the iWatch trademark in smaller countries. Just an interesting tidbit from those who monitor trademark filings.

Adam G. Garson, Esq.