The other day I received in the snail mail a very attractive piece of mailing, which was an advertisement for a new product from Altria, the owners of the most popular cigarette brand Marlboro. The new product is called MarkTen® and is an electronic cigarette.
So I dug into the brand launch from a domain wise aspect and wanted to see when they registered the domain names, how they registered the domain names and what trademarks were filed relating to the new brand, and this is what I found out. In the mailing that I received, 3 trademarked terms were used:
- MarkTen (the actual product)
- FourDraw (technology of the way the product is delivered)
- LetItGlow (tagline)
AdAge.com published a story on June 11, 2013 about an upcoming launch of MarkTen by Altria.
There were 10 trademarks filed, with most relating to every little thing with the logo, colors used etc. plus two trademarks relating to the Standard Character Mark (the words). The standard character marks were the first TM’s to be filed! The first one was filed October 29, 2012. The second (which to me didn’t look any different than the first standard character mark) was filed May 3, 2013 both by Nu Mark LLC (Altria).
MarkTen.com domain name was very likely purchased from the domains past owner! (I do not have a DomainTools.com account any longer, which greatly hinders my ability to post specific dates) It appears the domain name was purchased between 3/6/2012 and 7/20/2013 based on screenshot history. Maybe someone with DT access can provide when the exact change of ownership took place? but I would expect it was very close to one of the filing dates of one of the two TM filings. It appears that Altria only owns the .com of the MarkTen domain.
No domain name was included in the mailing I received! Only a phone number!
MarkTen does not sell the actual e-vapor devices online (in-store only) as they display it… but they do sell accessories like rechargeable batteries, charges etc. on the MarkTen.com site. One needs to create an account to see and be able to purchase.
Altria is using the domain name MarkTen.com for its main website for the MarkTen eCig brand.
“other domains” MarkTeneCig.com / .net (registered 6/11/2013 and listed for sale) are not Altria owned, but the .org is (registered 6/20/2013) Did you notice the connection? MarkTenEcig.com was registered the same day as the AdAge.com article… Altria registered the .org, the same day as they registered the FourDraw.com domain (FourDraw was not mentioned in the article). Very similar situation with several other domain names like MarkTenEcigarette.com where somebody else purchased the domain and Altria registered other TLD’s etc.
The domain name FourDraw.com appears to have been hand registered on June 20, 2013. A trademark for the standard character mark was filed April 25, 2013 and a second one on May 3, 2013. So this domain name was clearly registered AFTER the TM was filed.
The FourDraw.com domain name does resolve at the time of this article but is simply a blank white page. Why they do not simply forward it to MarkTen.com, I do not know.
There are two trademarks filed on Feb 11th and 12th of 2014 by Nu Mark LLC for the standard character mark Let It Glow.
Nu Mark does NOT own the domain name LetItGlow.com from what I can tell. The domain was registered in 2009 and is under whois privacy protection with GoDaddy. Nu Mark LLC normally has all of its domain names with CSC Corporate Domains. LetItGlow .net / .org are also registered and also are not owned by Nu Mark LLC.
I was a little surprised that there was no mention of the Marlboro brand in the mailing. Nothing to connect the two brands at all! I’m sure this was done on purpose, but it was a bit surprising to see no connection. Nu Mark clearly used its “Marlboro” mailing list to send out the new MarkTen brand launch but when I opened the mailing which I did think at first was a Marlboro mailing, it was not.
Zero domain names were displayed in the mailing. There was a BOGO coupon in the mailing and that coupon included a phone number 1-855-MARKTEN and displayed the message “For MarkTen e-vapor cartridge offers” to call that number, but no mention of MarkTen.com or any other TM’s displayed.
Nu Mark owns two of the three domains related to the TM’s displayed in the mailing. A little surprised (as it appears) they didn’t purchase the LetItGlow.com domain.
Timing of domain registrations, related to the filings of the TM’s. My guess is it appears they filed the TM’s and then went on to purchase the domains. I can understand why they may do this, in case the TM applications were denied for some reason and another mark would need to be filed for a different name… but I would think there is potential that the purchase price could be “higher” buying a previously registered domain that was registered prior to the TM filing if the current owner of the domain was aware of the filing by Nu Mark.
Domain wise, I think Nu Mark did Okay. I really think they should have used the MarkTen.com domain in the advertising… but I am also not 100% sure on what they can display in advertising due to cig ad regulations. Domain registration, they did a poor job and basically created issues they could have avoided if they registered many of the domain variations earlier than the AdAge.com article and pre-public testing!
eVapor.com was registered in 1998 and is owned by a snow machine company.
eCig.com has a “coming soon” page on it’s site and was also registered in 1998. This is a eCig start-up with an August 2014 launch.