The major Swiss cheese manufacturers have neglected to protect their trademarks in the United States. As a result, the names Gruyère and Emmental are used worldwide for cheeses that have nothing to do with their regions of origin in Switzerland. As was recently pointed out, Gruyère is considered a cheese variety and not a name.
Today, a Swiss start-up from Fribourg has achieved the opposite, namely to protect the name “Kevin” – known worldwide for the Christmas movie “Home alone” – as its trademark in the United States.
Most people know the name Kevin because of one movie: “Kevin, home alone”. The film revolves around the adventures surrounding a little boy who finds himself alone during the holiday season and who is faced with the challenge of defending the family’s house from invading burglars and criminals. In one sequence Kevin is simulating a whole party with dancing, music and talks, with the effect that the burglars do not try to invade the house that night.
Inspired by this Hollywood movie and this film sequence, the Swiss start-up Mitipi wanted to make sure that every person can have a boy like Kevin, just by applying smart technology. Mitipi has therefore launched a smart security speaker that is doing exactly what the boy Kevin did in the movie: simulating the presence of people.
Called Kevin, the innovative smart security speaker uses light, audio and shadow simulations to prevent burglars from entering an apartment, house or office. Depending on the time of day, different sounds are played by Kevin to make the simulation as close to everyday life and as realistic as possible. What the little boy Kevin does in the movie – namely scare away the evil burglars – has been recreated by the Mitipi team using modern, smart technology. With the Mitipi-Kevin APP, users can also record their own sounds, which can then be played back – depending on the time of day – together with other pre-installed sound effects.
Just like in the movie, burglars are thus misled by the combination of sounds, motion simulation and light.
The dilemma – or at least that’s what the inventors of the smart speaker thought – is that the name “Kevin” may have been trademarked in the United States by the film’s producers, first by Hughes Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and later by Columbia Pictures or Disney:
“For us, it made sense at first, because Columbia Pictures is also a subsidiary of Sony. We are used to multinational technology companies like Sony protecting all names. Even for the launch of new technical products,” said Patrick Cotting, CEO of Mitipi.
It was all the more surprising when it turned out that this was not the case. The start-up recently received the news from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that the KEVIN brand name now belongs to Mitipi. For Cotting, this is the key to the start-up’s ability to conquer the North American market. At the moment the Mitipi team therefore prepares the entry into the US market by participating in a USA Launching Pad which participation costs are financed by a Swiss foundation.