100-Year-Old Trademarks in 2021

Lisa Wright,

A trademark registration search can reveal many insights to brand owners. It can be used to gather competitor intelligence, or to detect similar or identical trademark applications in time to file an observation or opposition. At TrademarkNow, we also like to run trademark searches to conduct data analysis and research trademark activity for our community of trademark professionals and avid blog readers!

To mark the New Year, this article looks back at the trademark activity in 1921 and outlines some information about the top filers, registries, and product descriptions during that year. We also take a data dive into six brands that have stood the test of time and are still valid today.

Did you know that around the world just over 9% of trademarks registered one hundred years ago are still valid today? Japan currently holds the largest share of these centurial marks with 13.6%, followed closely by Germany with 13.4%. These marks are shining examples of brand assets that have been successfully commercialized and protected by their owners for a century.

A look back at the year 1921

1921 saw many significant historical world events take place. In March of that year, the Republican politician Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as the 29th President of the United States, while June saw Bessie Colman become the first African American to gain an international pilot’s license at just 29 years of age. The following month, the first ever BCG vaccination against tuberculosis was given in Paris. July 1921 also witnessed the foundation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the end of the Irish War of Independence, which had begun in 1919. The end of 1921 also saw the U.S. Supreme Court rule labor injunctions and picketing unconstitutional on December 21.

Trademarks turning 100 in 2021

We used ExaMatch ™, our business intelligence and preliminary trademark search tool, which shows trademark activity by product class and type, around the world — with links to 180 registries’ details — to run our trademark search online and dig a little deeper into the activity around some centurial trademarks.

Over 11,000 trademark registrations were recorded in the year 1921. At that time, the top registry was the United States’ USPTO (73.1%), followed by Japan’s JPO (4.7%), and Germany’s DPMA (4.6%). The top owner was the British Standards Institution with 0.5% of total registrations. Top product descriptions were filed in Class 5 Pharmaceuticals (1.7%), with Class 3 Soaps and Perfumes both taking an equal ratio share of 0.8%.

One hundred years later, there are just over 1,000 of these trademark registrations that still remain valid today. It is interesting to note that the top registry for these marks is still Japan’s JPO (13.9%), followed by Germany’s DPMA (13.4%), with Canada’s CIPO now taking an 11.6% share. The top product description is still Class 5 Pharmaceuticals (4.5%), with Perfume in Class 3 also remaining in second position.

Six long-standing brands and their owners

Here are six brands that remain household names (and valid trademarks) to this day — registered for the very first time in 1921!

1. Gillette

Gillette is a U.S. superbrand of safety razors and other personal care products including shaving supplies, owned by the multinational corporation Procter & Gamble (P&G). The very first mark ORAL was registered by the owner Gillette Company LLC in Sweden’s PRV more than 110 years ago — in April 1904 — and it is still valid today!

The first trademark registered in 1921 by the owner Gillette Company LLC contained the mark text GILLETTE. It was registered in Finland’s PRH in April 1921, in Nice Class 8, and it remains valid today. Some 42% of the total volume of Gillette’s trademarks registered in 1921 remain valid today. The top registries for these one-hundred-year-old marks are Nicaragua’s MIFIC (35.3%) with Guatemala’s RPI and Panama’s DIGERPI both sharing a ratio of 11.8%. Top product descriptions Razor blades (47.1%) and Razors (17.6%) are found in Nice Class 8 (Hand Tools and Cutlery), followed by Perfume (11.8%) found in Nice Class 3 (Cosmetics and Cleaning Preparations).

2. General Motors

General Motors Company is a U.S. multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Today it designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services. General Motors' very first mark that remains valid today — OLDSMOBILE — was registered in July 1903 in New Zealand’s IPONZ.

In 1921 May saw the first trademark, which contained the mark text GENERAL MOTORS, registered in Canada’s CIPO in Nice Classes 2-12, 14, 18, 21, 27-29 that remains a valid registration today. Some 69% of all trademarks registered in 1921 by General Motors are still valid today. Today the top registry for these marks is Nicaragua’s MIFIC (33.3%). The top product descriptions are all found in Nice Class 12 (Vehicles) with Cars (55.6%), Automobile engines (44.4%), and Powertrains, including engines and motors, for land vehicles and Motor vehicles both holding a ratio share of 33.3%.

3. Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand's products include complete air compressor systems, tools, ARO pumps, material handling systems, and much more. The very first mark registered by this owner that is still valid as of today is IR – it was recorded in April 1920 in the United Kingdom’s IPO.

The first trademark registered in 1921 by this owner that remains valid today contained the mark text INGERSOLL-RAND and was registered in Norway’s PS in July in Nice Classes 6-9, 11, and 12. 53% of all trademarks registered in 1921 by this owner remain valid today. The leading registries for these marks are Australia’s IPAU and Slovakia’s ÚPVSR — both holding an equal ratio share of 22.2%. The top ten product descriptions are all found in Nice Class 7 (Machinery), with Pneumatic drills (66.7%) leading the field.

4. Teva

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., also known as Teva Pharmaceuticals, is an American-Israeli pharmaceutical company. The very first mark registered by this owner was THYMOMEL back in October 1904 in the Czech Republic’s ÚPV and it remains valid to this day!

The first trademark registered by owner Teva in 1921 that is valid today was the word mark TUSSILEN. It was registered in May 1921 in the Czech Republic’s ÚPV in Nice Classes 1 and 5. 100% of all trademarks registered in 1921 by Teva remain valid today. Today, the top registry for these marks is the Czech Republic’s ÚPV (60%), with top product descriptions Pharmaceuticals (60%) and Pharmaceuticals for veterinary use (40%) found in Nice Class 5 (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies), and Pharmacies (40%) found in service Class 44 (Medical, Cosmetic and Agricultural Services).

5. Exxon

Exxon is the brand name of ExxonMobil. It is one of the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies. One of the very first trademarks registered by Exxon Mobil Corporation was the word mark 600W. Registration was recorded in June 1886 in Ireland’s IPO and it is still valid over 130 years later!

The very first trademark registered by Exxon in 1921 that remains valid today contains the mark text HECLA. It was registered by the proprietor in January 1921 in the United Kingdom’s IPO — in Nice Class 4. 55% of all trademarks registered by the owner in 1921 remain valid at the time of writing. The top registry for these trademarks is Denmark’s PVS (25%). The top ten product descriptions are all found in Nice Class 4 (Lubricants and Fuels) and include Naphtha, Lamp oil, Lubricants in the nature of oils and Lubricants and industrial greases, waxes and fluids, which all share a ratio of 31.3%.

6. Chevron

Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation. It is headquartered in San Ramon, California, and active in more than 180 countries. Still valid today, HAVOLINE was

the first mark registered by this owner that remains valid today. It was recorded in April 1907 in the United States USPTO.

January saw the first trademark CETUS registered by owner Chevron in the year 1921. It was recorded in Nice Class 4 in New Zealand’s IPONZ and remains valid today. In fact, 80% of all marks registered one hundred years ago by Chevron are still valid today. Top registries for these marks include Spain’s OEPM (35%), followed by the United Kingdom’s IPO (30%), and New Zealand’s IPONZ (20%). Top product descriptions are Lubricants in the nature of oils and Lubricating oils (30%), both found in Nice Class 4 (Lubricants and Fuels).

Final thoughts

The longevity enabled by consistently maintained trademarks can be an incredibly powerful tool for businesses. One of the best ways to protect any brand is to register relevant trademarks and then remain vigilant and proactive when maintaining its rights — trademark watching and swift action is key if you think that a third party is infringing on your rights. And, if you keep on using your trademark over many years (like our showcased 100-year-old trademarks) you can build reputation, brand loyalty, and consumer goodwill, all of which are extremely valuable business assets too.

You can be sure that the six trademarks featured, now celebrating their centennials in 2021, did not survive for one hundred years without an efficient brand protection strategy — stringent trademark monitoring, policing, and enforcement.

Make sure your brand stays yours for the next 100 years!

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*The above-mentioned brands are noted for factual reporting purposes only, the listing of the brands does not imply any relationship with Corsearch or its related entities.