Trademark concerns must be considered before embarking on any rebranding. When SNAGAJOB decided to embark on its rebranding, trademark considerations do not appear to have been at the forefront of the decision making process.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that SNAGAJOB changed its name to SNAG. Snagajob is an hourly job search site used by about 90 million people, and is the record owner of two federal trademark registrations. One for SNAGAJOB.COM in connection with “On-line employment services, namely services that permit prospective employers to list part-time and seasonal employment opportunities for students, and allows students looking for such opportunities to review such listings, to submit applications and to notify employers in their geographic area that they are searching for a job, directly via a global computer network.” This registration was renewed in 2011.
The other registration is for SNAGAJOB in connection with “Providing an on-line searchable database featuring classified ad listings and employment opportunities.” The required Section 8 Declaration of Continuous Use for this registration will have to be filed by July 24, 2018 or it will be at risk of becoming administratively cancelled.
Peter Harrison, CEO, said the Snagajob name has high brand recognition, “we did not want to lose that, but we thought it important that we send a clear message that we are about much more than just how to get a job.” Unfortunately for Mr. Harrison, if he abandons all use of SNAGAJOB for SNAG, he may risk losing the almost 20 years of nationwide priority he enjoyed in the SNAGAJOB mark.
Amendments may not be made to the drawing of the mark if the character of the mark is materially altered. Mere changes in background or styling, or modernization, are not ordinarily considered to be material changes in the mark, but deletion of matter from the mark can result in a material alteration. Even if the matter being deleted is nondistinctive matter (i.e., it is generic or descriptive), if the deletion changes the overall commercial impression of the mark, the deletion may be a material alteration.
In this case, changing the mark by deleting AJOB may be considered a material alteration. In which case, Snagajob may not be able to renew its old registrations, which can user in new problems for the new SNAG mark.