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What's in a Towns Name

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What's in a Towns Name


From the website of the Amarillo Globe-News. URL:

Web posted Sunday, December 14, 1997


Town considers licensing name

The Associated Press


ROSWELL (AP) - The mere mention of Roswell is enough to conjure up images of aliens and crashed UFOs. Mayor Tom Jennings is willing to bank on it.


After cashing in earlier this year on the 50th anniversary of the purported crash of an alien spacecraft in the nearby desert, the City Council is now considering registering "Roswell, New Mexico" as a global trademark.


"Before the crash, Roswell was just another dusty town in southern New Mexico," Jennings said. "But now, we have worldwide name recognition, and we think the town should capitalize on this phenomenon."


An agent from a Los Angeles-based licensing company, NRP Productions, posed the idea in October. The agent, Neil Russell, said his company would pay the $100,000 registration fees to license the city's name and seal in exchange for a third of the profits.


If the plan is approved, every time "Roswell, New Mexico" is used in a movie or a book, the city would be entitled to royalties.


Jennings said he expects a council vote sometime in January.


"There have been books, posters and even a movie made about Roswell that was filmed in the Arizona desert," "We don't want to be greedy, but we do want to ensure accuracy in the usage of Roswell products," Jennings said. More than 40,000 people trekked to Roswell in July for the week long anniversary bash that featured a memorial service for the dead aliens and a crash-and-burn parade of home-built spaceships.


Roswell residents secretly smile at their odd fame, so there is no reason the city 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque shouldn't try to make a buck off its reputation, much as Hollywood and New York have, Jennings says.


"Shoot - everybody is making a profit off of aliens right now but us."


A profit is not guaranteed, though. In California, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce tried to trademark its name. But officials decided it was too costly and inconvenient to regulate its use, said Don Oblander, the city's finance director.


"The thing that we've learned is that for a geographical name, we can't really prevent someone from using it," Oblander said.


The city, still looking for a way to cash in on its mystique, opted to license the Beverly Hills shield instead.


The trademarked shield, a piece of art that sits on the edge of town, bagged the city about $10,000 in just a few months, Oblander says.


"The shield was flashed for less than three seconds in a Wendy's television ad. That made up for about a third of those earnings," Oblander said. "We expect that there could be revenues of $100,000 over the year or more."


Some global trademarks, such as Marlboro, rake in billions of dollars every year simply on name recognition, says Daniel Kimbell, a trademark attorney in Glendale, Calif.


"People will always associate the product with the name. Like Beverly Hills is always identified with a class of wealth," Kimbell said.


"The city of Hollywood, a name known all over the world, makes money on everything from Hollywood coffee to condoms," he said.


Jennings, the Roswell mayor, said he would spend royalties from licensing - which NRP estimates at more than $50,000 a year - to create a community foundation benefiting children.


While he doesn't think the UFO craze will pass anytime soon, Jennings said some "real evidence" from the contestable crash could increase profits dramatically.


"I'm not sure anyone knows for sure what really happened in that desert 50 years ago, but something happened," he said. "If we could find an artifact that backs up the story we'd really be in business."


c 1997 Amarillo Globe-News



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