Harley-Davidson has employed its first brand president as the company moves to protect its valuable trademark, even challenging a charity’s use of its logo.
Neil Grimmer joins the company after 20 years of building brands including founding Habit, the world’s first personalised nutrition life science company.
He will be responsible for all aspects of the Harley-Davidson brand including product planning, marketing, retail, apparel and communications.
Neil will also be responsible for protecting the brand which has been valued as a $5 billion asset.
Harley-Davidson’s name, trademark, and bar-and-shield and bald eagle logos are among the world’s most recognised.
In the late 1990s, the company even tried to trademark their distinctive “potato-potato” exhaust noise, but failed in US courts.
Harley has a 40-year history of suing small and large companies for unlawfully using their brand for motorcycle parts, t-shirts jewellery and other products.
Now the Milwaukee company is opposing a trademark application by Panache Social Club which collects and distributes food, clothing, toiletries and school supplies for the homeless, less fortunate kids and people in need.
Harley told the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that the Panache trademark features a bar and shield logo that is identical to theirs.
“Applicants are consumers of Harley-Davidson’s goods and services, particularly given the depiction of a motorcycle image within applicants’ logo,” Harley claims.
Harley is also concerned that Panache, which organises social clubs, also encroaches on the trademarks used by the Harley Owners Group, one of the largest manufacturer-sponsored motorcycle riding clubs in the world.
“When applicants’ claimed trademark is applied to their social services, there is a strong likelihood of confusion, mistake, or deception that the ordinary consumer will erroneously believe that applicants’ services either originate from or are sponsored, approved, or licensed by Harley-Davidson,” the company told the appeal board.
Harley boss Matt Levatich says the appointment of their first brand president comes at a “pivotal time”.
“The addition of Neil Grimmer to our seasoned group of leaders, enhances our capabilities and will sharpen our focus on strategic and long-term growth opportunities to ensure our future success,” he says.
“We have a clear vision, and the leadership team and organisation are aligned and energised around it.”
Neil recognises that Harley-Davidson “is an iconic American brand recognised around the world as a symbol of personal expression and individual freedom”.
“It is nothing short of an honour and a privilege to work with Matt and the amazing team at Harley to bring the strategy to life and excite the next generation of riders, ushering in the next chapter of the storied legacy of Harley-Davidson.”