11 February 2009
1700 Seventh Avenue, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98101
Dear Mr. Nordstrom:
I hope you’ll agree with me from the outset that, while it might be an amusing name for a line, say, of lingerie, “Beckon” is a meaningless (not to say dumb) name for women’s handbags. Even if you think “Beckon” is a lyrical name for a line of coin purses, it’s certainly not a name that is worth throwing away the more than a hundred years of goodwill attached to your own family’s name.
Legally, you may have been right at first — it appears that the PTO screwed up and approved your trademark when Sather-Prater LLC’s application was already pending. You may even be legally right now, but take it from a criminal-defense lawyer: there is often a huge gulf between “legally right” and “well-liked”.
I’d like to suggest five other possible trademarks for your line of handbags, wallets, travel bags, and so forth. I think you’ll find that, while none of them are any more inapposite than “Beckon,” all of them convey the same feel, and that at least one of them is not already in use by someone else in the clothing business:
You are free to use any of these without attribution to me. Also, there is no charge for this advice. I’m just trying to be helpful — clearly, your lawyers didn’t clear their attack on Ms. Sather and Ms. Prater with you or your public relations department. Surely the $70,000 that they have spent on legal fees pales in comparison to the goodwill that your lawyers have, to be blunt, pissed away.
Please don’t hesitate to call me if there is anything else I can do for you.