Imagine using a brand for your business for nearly 35 years and still having almost zero trademark rights.
The Tile Shop, LLC first used THE TILE SHOP for retail sales of, well, tiles, in 1985, the same year that Michael Jordan was named Rookie of the Year. The Tile Shop is still working on securing exclusive rights to that brand.
1988: It tried to register but didn’t get exclusive rights to the words THE TILE SHOP because other people who sell tiles in shops need to use the words “tile” and “shop.”
1995: Undaunted, it tried again. And failed.
1997: Yet another try. Yet another failure.
2003: And again. Failure.
2004: Again? Yes. And failed? Yes.
2016: Tried again and actually managed to argue its way into a registration that includes exclusive rights to the word “tile.” Good luck enforcing that.
2019: As of this writing, it’s on its way to getting a second registration that includes exclusive rights to “tile.”
Thirty plus years and seven tries later, it has managed to acquire some feeble rights but The Tile Shop, LLC is never going to be able to stop stores that sell tile from using the word “shop” or the word “tile.”
The brand started weak. It remains weak. It could have spent the last 35 years building value into an actual trademark instead of trying to get rights to the generic words for its goods and services. This happens all too often.
Thanks for regular reader Liz B. for the suggestion and the photo.