On May 19, 2019, HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” aired its final episode. Although many fans are surely sad to see the popular series come to a close, us trademark fans have much “Game of Thrones” related intrigue to look forward to, as its trademarks live on.
Game of Thrones began back in 2011 and lasted for eight seasons. Throughout those eight seasons, HBO sought to protect its brand by applying for numerous trademarks. HBO of course quickly applied for registration of the trademark “Game of Thrones,” and additionally obtained trademarks in phrases made popular by the show such as “Winter is Coming.” However, possessing the foresight of a “Three-Eyed Raven” and the speed of a “White Walker,” HBO has been quick to trademark lesser known phrases from the series such as “Dracarys,” “Valar Dohaeris,” and, of course, the above mentioned phrases “Three-Eyed Raven” and “White Walker.”
With the series ending, one might think that HBO has less incentive to register and protect its trademarks. That thought would likely be mistaken. Game of Thrones has enjoyed an incredible level of popularity, averaging just under 12 million viewers per episode in the United States alone in its final season. With this kind of popularity comes extensive opportunity in the form of merchandising and even spin-offs. By registering trademarks in popular terms and phrases used in the show, HBO helped ensure that third-parties who do not have rights in HBO’s trademarks cannot profit directly off of the show’s success. As such, HBO will likely see its trademarking efforts pay off substantially, especially as it pertains to merchandising.
In its tenure, Game of Thrones representatives have protected their trademarks with careful precision. In doing so, HBO has likely been careful in toeing the line between protecting its rights in merchandise and other licensing, and avoiding the untenable consequence of stamping out fan engagement. Who knows, if unauthorized third parties increasingly use Game of Thrones trademarks, maybe fun and interesting Game of Thrones cease and desist letters will start popping up in the news. Although “[The Show] Has Ended,” the trademark fun lives on.