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Intellectual Property Lessons from The Mad Hueys

An article in the newspaper caught my eye yesterday about Formula One, the Mad Hueys and a celebration named the "shoey".

Firstly, a bit of background for those who unfamiliar with the Mad Hueys and what a shoey is. 

The Mad Hueys is a fishing and surfing clothing brand based on the Gold Coast, Australia. The brand grew from a small group of mates competing in a fishing comp and has now expanded significantly, including launching in the US. 

Among the owners of The Mad Hueys are Shaun and Dean Harrington. Back in 2003 Shaun and Dean started appearing in video clips drinking beer (or whatever else was available) out of a shoe. Hence, a shoey. 

Shaun and Dean are responsible for much of the viral video clips that have helped The Mad Hueys grow their business. Given their reputation the shoey, it features strongly. Fans also regularly send in clips that the brand reposts to their social media accounts of them also performing shoeys. I've even seen a clip of a guy drinking out of a fish head but that's a story for another time. 

So, how does Formula One fit in? Back in 2016 Daniel Ricciardo (who happens to be friends with Shaun and Dean) celebrated a win by performing a shoey on the podium. He now does so after every win. 

Someone at Formula One head office seemed to like the celebration so much that they registered a trademark for shoey in the household category which includes picnic sets, trays, coolers, super bowls, crockery bottles, statues, sculpture as well as trophies. It seems that Formula One is targeting the production of shoey memorabilia, commemorative Daniel Ricciardo shoey stubby holder anyone?

However, Formula One also tried to register a trademark for clothing. Luckily for The Mad Hueys they'd registered the trademark in the clothing category.

Given the size of Formula One compared to Australia, they have also registered the shoey trademark across 25 countries. Reports have not indicated what categories in other countries they have been successful in registering the trademark for. 

There are some important takeouts for brands from this. First, make sure you register your trademarks early when developing your brand. As this example shows, you need to consider whether to register not just your brandname but other trademarks that can be associated with your brand.

Next it making sure you register across all categories that you may wish to develop for your brand. The Mad Hueys obviously didn't envision making shoey branded household items. However, it may have been appropriate to expand the scope of the trademark beyond clothing for brand protection. 

Finally, you need to monitor your trademark for infringement. It may not always be as public as a company as big as Formula One potentially infringing on your brand. One great way to monitor this is to set up Google alerts for your trademark if possible. 

I never thought a day would come where The Mad Hueys would be the subject of an important discussion about protecting intellectual property rights but there you have it.      

Liam Young