We spent some time in Nürnberg at Christmas for the Christkindlesmarkt. Not to mention considerable essen und trinken. My father is a long time student of the charms and notaries of the old town. He brought my attention to that master of the northern renaissance and Nürnberg’s most famous son, Albrecht Dürer.
Dürer protected his works from forgers by pursuing a landmark decision through the courts in Venice, which saw his monogram recognised as a trademark. Intellectual Property rights now cover all creative output including inventions and discoveries; essentially unique thoughts and ideas. One method of protecting those rights is through the use of a trademark. The concept of ideas as property evolved over centuries; consolidated in the actual term ‘intellectual property' around the 19th century.
Big trademarks such as those of Microsoft, McDonalds et al, represent a considerable percentage of the value of a company albeit intangible. They intrinsically stand for expectation and delivery. When we order a McDonalds we expect a product that delivers within clearly defined brand parameters. Companies perceive infringement of trademark as dilution of brand, which is why they protect them so aggressively. Google own what is estimated to be the most valuable trademark. Google fretted over the word falling into the vernacular as synonymous with ‘search’ -in the way 'to Hoover' became synonymous with vacuum cleaning- thereby actually compromising the brand. Controversially Entrepreneur Media Inc (EMI) own the trademark for the word Entrepreneur and will file against companies small or large attempting to use it. The Munich brewery Löwenbräu (lions brew) have existed since 1383 and claimed use of the lion motif since then, making it the oldest continuously used trademark motif in the world.
Meanwhile in Nürnberg, whilst Dürer was not able to prevent forgers (notably the Venetian artist Marcantonio Raimondi ) making fine copies ‘After Dürer’, he was able to protect his trademark by preventing reproduction of same.