Filming for Game of Thrones may be wrapping up and winter may be here, but that’s not going to stop HBO from reminding everyone of its ownership over the franchise and its related marks.
HBO has applied for and obtained a plethora of Game of Thrones related marks, In addition to its ownership over the obvious GAME OF THRONES mark, HBO has applied for registration of marks related to the show such as WINTER IS HERE; HODOR; KHALEESI; THREE-EYED RAVEN; and many more. Additionally, HBO has (unsuccessfully) attempted to register the marks for many of the houses in the show, including HOUSE GREYJOY, HOUSE TARGARYEN, HOUSE LANNISTER, and even HOUSE MORMONT.
With a merchandising opportunity as big as Game of Thrones, the vast number of marks that HBO has applied for in relation to the series isn’t surprising at all. Here, however, we’re focused on one of those many marks that obtained successful registration status in 2015: the WINTER IS COMING mark.
Specifically, registration of the WINTER IS COMING ensures that fans have the protection of knowing that their merchandise is legitimate and protects HBO from flagrant, blatant copycats. It makes sense that HBO has ownership over the WINTER IS COMING mark, especially in light of the fact that it’s one of the most important sayings of the series and is also the title of the first episode. HBO has ownership over the WINTER IS COMING mark for use in marketplaces such as mugs and drinking glasses, clothing, slot machines, online and retail store services, and more.
Most importantly, in this case, HBO has registered the WINTER IS COMING mark for use in the alcoholic beverages market.
Earlier this year, Purple Wine Company attempted to register the WINTER IS COMING mark for use in wine. If you’re unfamiliar with the trademark registration process, you should know that the class of goods for “wine” is a different than that of beer and other alcoholic beverages, explaining why there wasn’t a direct and obvious conflict upon registration.
The allowed the registration to go forward and published the mark in the Official Gazette in January, but HBO wasn’t happy in the slightest. On July 9th, it finally filed its opposition against Purple Wine Company’s proposed WINTER IS COMING mark.
While it took HBO a while to file its opposition to the WINTER IS COMING mark, it appears that their success did not come after a long and arduous legal process (as it normally does). As we mentioned, the opposition was filed on July 9th. That very same day, Purple Wine Company filed a request for express abandonment of the WINTER IS COMING mark. It’s likely that Purple Wine Company saw the opposition and, in a quick response, decided that the WINTER IS COMING mark wasn’t quite worth fighting for. While it is certainly possible that something happened behind the scenes between HBO and Purple Wine Company, the record won’t show us what goes on behind the wall.
Author, Caroline Womack, is a rising 3L at Quinnipiac University School of Law and primarily studies intellectual property law, focusing on video game and internet law.