Pantene Pro‐V ‐ cunning patent and trademark strategy
Get a "Patent Pending Number". Coin a new Trademark "Pro‐V". And, become the #1 selling shampoo Worldwide. A BIG double thumbs up!
You don't get to #1 on a tailwind of luck. Pantene had to do something exceptional ‐ implement a plan so tricksy; so cunning; so simple. So good. So very good, it could even help Gill stage a comeback.
A "Like" for anyone who knows what "Pro‐V" stands for.
Protein and vitamins? Nope.
PRO‐VITAMINS. Definition: a substance that is converted into a vitamin within an organism. It's a combination of:
Panthenyl Ethyl Ether.
Now, neither of these names roll off the tongue. And, the average consumer would guess that these chemicals will sooner kill you than make your hair shiny and vibrant. Imagine an advert:
Pantene Shampoo with Panthenol and Panthenyl Ethyl Ether ‐ natural and green
You may as well add: bottled at source, Chernobyl.
Tricksy Step 1:
Get a Patent Pending Number. Not for combining Panthenol and Panthenyl Ethyl Ether ‐ that is known; but for Pantene’s very specific ratio and concentration of these actives. Sure, this patent does not prevent others from adding Provitamins to their shampoos, but Pantene is now "Patent Pending". And, everyone loves that, particularly when the patents are registered in Switzerland.
Cunning Step 2:
Come up with a good name. Panthenol is a provitamin of B5 (yep, I had to look that up and have no idea what this really means), so why not call it a PROVITAMIN. Everyone loves vitamins ‐ they make you strong and healthy. And, a ProVitamin is that, but MORE. One problem: you cannot trademark register a descriptive mark (i.e. a word that described the product). Someone tried it once in the US and had to abandon his trademark application.
So, PROVITAMIN is out. But, it is so good. What about PRO‐V? Definitely not descriptive. No‐one earned that "Like". Trademark registrability: ticked. So, starting 28 June 1991, Pantene filed a series of trademarks for PRO‐V.
With the trademarks in hand, no‐one else is allowed to use the word PRO‐V in relation to shampoos ‐ forever!
Simple Step 3:
Market PRO‐V as some new super compound ‐ as a new Higgs‐Bosun‐like particle. Something special. Something arcane. Something that no‐one knows anything about, but wants. Something that will make you look as scrumptious as Kelly Le Brock, Iman and Gisele Bundchen:
And, when "with PRO‐V" ceases to satisfies the inquisitive customer, amplify:
Now, everyone should want a shampoo with PRO‐V ‐ the thingamajig that no‐one else has "because it's patented".
Fast forward to 20 March 2005. Pro‐V’s patent rights expire, so every Paul Mitchel, Liquid Keratin, Verb, Doux Suede, Dove, Sinmo Saengbaleum, Clarifying, Aras, Lavera, Imperial, B.Leve, Bumble and Bumble and Agree Swimmers Solution is able to adds Panthenol and Panthenyl Ethyl Ether to its shampoo in the exact same ratio and concentration as Pantene. But no‐one notices or cares. Who wants Pantheny‐chemicals? We all want PRO‐V®, and no‐one but PANTENE can add PRO‐V® to its shampoo ‐ thanks to the indefatigable trademark registrations. Happy Days!
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