As the United States today celebrates the 245th anniversary of its independence, the intellectual property (IP) community will tomorrow be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Lanham Act, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on July 5, 1946.
The Lanham Act was introduced by Fritz Garland Lanham, who was born in Weatherford, Texas in 1880. He was elected to Congress in 1919 and reelected 13 times before he retired in 1947, the year the Lanham Act was enacted. Lanham’s father was a lawyer and served as a Congressman as well as the 23rd governor of Texas.
Prior to the Lanham Act, there had been several attempts to enact trademark laws, but they had been mostly unsuccessful. The trademark law appended to revisions to the patent and copyright laws in 1870 was ultimately struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1879 and it was not until 1905 that a true federal trademark law came into play. However, the law was still far from efficient and the Lanham Act was considered the first modern trademark law – one which has mostly endured to this day.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Act this year, the USPTO and the Texas State Bar collaborated on a special CLE program, which is still available to view and includes many interesting materials on Lanham and the history of the legislation and of trademarks. To commemorate this history, here are some of the United States’ very first trademarks:
Trademark No. 1: Averill Ready-Mix Paint – First Registered Trademark (1870)
According to the USPTO, the Averill Ready-Mix Paint logo is the first U.S. registered trademark, filed for paints on August 29, 1870 and issued on October 23, 1870. D.R. Averill of New York City created and patented the first ready-mix paint for home use in 1867, a huge improvement over the previous system homeowners had to endure in order to revitalize their living space, and quickly moved to register the trademark. Although it was the 15th trademark application submitted that year, Averill’s was the first to be registered.
Samson Rope Technologies, Inc. – Oldest Trademark Still in Use (1884)
J.P. Tolman Company applied for registration of its logo of the Biblical Samson wrestling a lion for Cords, Lines [ Twines] and Ropes on April 7, 1884. The registration issued on May 27, 1884 and remains in use today by Samson Rope Technologies, Inc.
The famed Coca-Cola logo was registered as a mark on January 31, 1893. This first version included the word “trademark” on the tail, where it remained until 1941, when the registration marker was moved to beneath the words. Today, the logo simply features the ® symbol.
LEVI’S Jeans – (1928)
Though Levi Strauss & Co. had used its “Two-Horse” logo for decades already, its first registered trademark was for the word Levi’s, issued on December 4, 1928 for Overalls and Jeans. Prior to this, the jeans were referred to as the Two Horse brand.