The Greatest Trademark On Earth

In 1988, the Utah Division of Travel and Development applied to register THE GREATEST SNOW ON EARTH for “promoting business and tourism.” It claimed to have started using the slogan in 1966.

Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, the owners of THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, were not pleased. In case you think 1966 was a long time ago, Ringling Bros. first used the trademark THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH in 1891, and first registered the mark in 1961.

Ringling Bros. didn’t have to prove infringement because THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is a “famous” mark. All Ringling Bros. had to show was that Utah’s use would “dilute” Ringling Bros. mark either by “tarnishing” or “blurring.”

Ringling Bros. opposed Utah’s application by arguing there would be dilution. After almost 6 years, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in favor of Utah. Ringling Bros. appealed and still lost.

Since that fateful loss, the Ringling Bros. tagline has been the subject of other trademark riffs. Here are some that made it to registration:

  • THE GREATEST SHOW NEAR SURF
  • THE GREATEST SHOW ON GRASS
  • THE GREATEST SHOW ABOVE THE EARTH
  • THE GREATEST SHOW ON TUNDRA
  • THE GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT

The story of some trademarks goes back a long long way and takes a very twisty route.

Image of Utah license plan (c) 2018 Dick Elbers under Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Modified by cropping.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s