Tom Blackett, writing on, emphasises the importance of reputation in purchasing decisions. He argues that once a consumer has experienced a brand and has found it to be satisfactory, he will trust that brand and will continue to purchase it, even if there are cheaper alternatives available (hence the notion of “trust marks”). He gives the example of a market in Soweto where, despite the poverty of the inhabitants, only expensive major brands are available because consumers can’t afford to make a purchasing mistake and so only buy brands they know to be OK. He sees the visual element of a brand as acting as a proxy for a mark’s reputation, triggering off the consumer’s recollection of a mark’s reputation and celebrates “how wonderfully enlightened is the law, which allows brand owners to protect their trade marks subject to tests that are none too onerous”. Of particular interest to trade mark lawyers is his statement that the ® sign gives consumers extra confidence because it suggests that the goods have statutory approval.

The IPKat thinks it’s a little odd that the fact that a civil servant has found a sign to be distinctive enough to be entered on the register should add to the confidence of consumers. This suggests that consumer’s don’t really understand what the ® symbol means. Blackett’s ultimate message though is however nifty your trade mark protected product features, names, indicia etc, the mark is only as good as the reputation that it is a proxy for. Trust marks seem a little different from the concept of love marks blogged by the IPKat on 30 November 2003. While love marks inspire fierce loyalty, the feeling felt about trust marks are more docile. Instead of passion, something altogether more gentle and perhaps more easy to sustain is felt.

Marks you can trust here, here, here and here

REPUTATION AND TRUST SELLS THE GOODS REPUTATION AND TRUST SELLS THE GOODS Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, December 19, 2003 Rating: 5

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