Great IP Advice from Jimmy Buffett

There is nothing quite like sitting back and relaxing on the beach while enjoying a beverage and listening to Jimmy Buffett songs. The singer has built quite a business enterprise around the Margaritaville lifestyle. When interviewed by David Greene in a recent NPR interview, the topic of one of his biggest business blunders came up. To a surprised Davide Greene, Jimmy brought up trademarks. That's right! Intellectual property. The relevant transcript is below:

GREENE: “But make sense of the paradox to me that you are, I mean, a massively successful business. The Margaritaville brand, you know, it is hugely commercial.”
BUFFETT: “Yeah.”
GREENE: “Are you a different person if you’ve gone commercial?”
BUFFETT: “Well, I’m not Ron Popeil, you know. So I can sell you a blender, but I’m not going to sell you a Vegematic. I’ll tell you how smart of a business mind I am not is that I had no idea that Margaritaville could be a business entity because I didn’t own the trademark to the restaurant. Some guy in California trademarked Margaritaville as a restaurant.”
GREENE: “Before you could trademark?”
BUFFETT: “And I can’t have the name. Of course, I’ve tried to buy it back, but he won’t sell it.”

And so Jimmy Buffet summarizes one of the most important lessons when building a business and brand - develop your intellectual property strategy from the beginning and have a clear plan going forward. Of course Jimmy is doing just fine, but not everyone has his performance talents. For the rest of us, if you wait until too late, there's no claiming that there's someone else to blame - it's your own "darn" fault.