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Start-ups get sentimental with old brands

Many men and women who have launched their own business start-up are contributing to a new trend that has resurrected nostalgic brands all while contributing to their bottom line. Rather than opting to create their own trademarks and brand -- which can be a very costly route -- they are bringing back old, abandoned trademarks and breathing new life into them.

This could ease their company's pocketbook because many consumers are already familiar with the trademarks and have possibly come to trust them. However, there is still plenty of work left to be done. Many of these brands have been dead or ailing for a long time and will need a boost in order to thrust themselves back into the consumer culture.

A lawyer specializing in intellectual property pointed out that when a trademarked brand is not used for three consecutive years, it is considered abandoned under law. Fellow business owners can register these trademarks and use them in their own operations.

Many entrepreneurs are trying to locate those that own the rights to former brands and strike deals with them. One website dedicated to classic brands in American history has devoted a section to buying and selling abandoned brands.

While inheriting a formerly-successful brand could be a sound business move, many entrepreneurs are driven by the sentimental value of the brands they used to love. For instance, one man invested $1 million into reviving the Seafood Shanty chain of restaurants.

After the restaurant chain broke down in the 1990s, the man just opened his first location of the newly-revived Seafood Shanty in February. He remembered going on his first date with his wife to the restaurant in 1982.

Another man forked over $1,200 to buy the National Premium beer trademark, which he fondly remembered before it was discontinued in the 1990s. He is now trying to locate the original recipe for the beer to start brewing it again. He already has two distributors lined up so he can sell the beer.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Old brands get second shot," Angus Loten and Emily Maltby, April 18, 2012

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