February 15, 2007

It was recently announced that St. Paul Travelers Co. is purchasing the rights to the red umbrella mark and the slogan “You’re better off under the umbrella” from Citigroup Inc. The red umbrella, first appearing in a Travelers advertisement in 1870, became the official trademark of Travelers in 1959. According to the Bloomberg news article (link below), Citibank, originally acquiring the mark in 1993 when it purchased Travelers, agreed to the sale in part based on the strong recognition of insurance (and nothing else) by the public when they would see the red umbrella logo. According to Jay Fishman, the Chairman and CEO of Travelers, “The red umbrella is one of the great American business icons. It's a familiar representation of protection and insurance that is in-synch with our customers' ever-changing needs,” and “[b]ringing back the umbrella and changing the company name will further advance the highly regarded Travelers brand.” In 2002, the Travelers Property Casualty Corporation spun off from Citigroup in 2002, and merged two years later with St. Paul Companies. The red umbrella was not included as part of those transactions. Although I could not find a specific trademark number for this umbrella listed in any of the news articles I browsed about this topic, I did locate U.S. Trademark No. 1,161,313 for the red umbrella, filed in December, 1979, issued in July, 1981, and claiming a first use in 1961 for IC 036 (for listed insurance services). That particular registration refers to three earlier registrations (U.S. Trademark Nos. 782,580 (for an umbrella, but the “coloring is not essential except for contrast,” registered in 1964), 807,053 (for a hand holding an umbrella, registered in 1966), and 1,017,602 (for an umbrella in a box with the words "THE TRAVELERS" below it, registered in 1975)). The earliest referenced registered mark in any of the foregoing is U.S. Trademark No. 539,104 for the words “THE TRAVELERS,” registered in 1951.

U.S. Trademark No. 1,161,313: LINK
St. Paul Travelers Press Release: LINK
Citigroup Press Release: LINK
Bloomberg News Article: LINK
U.S. Trademark No. 539,104: LINK
U.S. Trademark No. 782,580: LINK
U.S. Trademark No. 807,053: LINK
U.S. Trademark No. 1,017,602: LINK


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Copyright 2006-2010, Mark Reichel. The Daily Dose of IP is my personal website, and I am not providing any legal advice or financial analysis. Any views expressed herein should not be viewed as being the views of my employer, Ice Miller LLP. Any comments submitted to this blog will not be held in confidence and will not be considered as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Information submitted to this blog should be considered as being public information, and the submitter takes full responsibility for any consequences of any information submitted. No claims, promises, or guarantees are made or available regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information contained in this blog or otherwise available by searching from or linking away from this blog.

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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