With sustainability becoming a driving focus of consumerism lately, corporate America is taking notice. More and more household-name companies are taking steps to create “green” product lines and market sustainability approaches to manufacturing every day. And as marketing teams across the nation seek to assure their customers of their commitment to environmentally and socially conscious choices, trademark applications related to sustainable products are on the rise.
In the luxury goods space alone, marks like Prada’s “Re-Prada” (representing goods made from recycled fishing nets and carpets) and Louis Vuitton’s twisting arrows “LV” (denoting their upcycled sneakers) have made their way through the trademark registration process.
The practice of linking marketing efforts to sustainability choices in manufacturing is referred to as “ESG messaging” (ESG stands for environmental, social and governance) and is not only gaining steam in the advertising world, but also being noticed by U.S. and international regulators and watch-dog groups. A formal compliance review of environmental marketing claims was recently initiated in the U.K., and U.S. lawsuits based upon allegedly vague or unsubstantiated marketing claims related to sustainability are rapidly increasing. Even the advertising industry’s own self-regulating entity, the National Advertising Division, has begun monitoring the accuracy of corporate sustainability claims.
Business owners should take note when initiating new ESG messaging campaigns: Be sure trademarks that signify sustainability efforts are backed by evidentiary support for the practices they represent. Intellectual property registrations are valuable government endorsements, but they are not a license to ignore truth in advertising regulations.
If you have questions about sustainability branding, feel free to contact our intellectual property department at 248.477.6300. We are happy to be of service.