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Radio Shack and the Value of Trademarks

Radio Shack, the 97-year veteran electronics retailer now in bankruptcy, is going to be auctioning off its brands and trademarks, apart from their business, so the buyers would not have to buy any of the stores — just the trademarks. The Radio Shack name itself is to be auctioned with an initial minimum bid of twenty million dollars.
At the moment, Radio Shack still has 24 active or “live” trademark registrations in the US, and enormous customer loyalty still clings to some of those brands. These include trademark registrations for some of the emblematic Radio Shack brands, like RADIO SHACK, REALISTIC, ENERCELL, COLOR EAGLE, MEGACABLE, TRIM-FONE, MACH, PORTAVISION, and WEATHERADIO. The US Trademark Register lists 244 expired or “dead” Radio Shack trademarks, including some of the more iconic ones, like ARCHER, DUOFONE, YOU GOT QUESTIONS. WE GOT ANSWERS, and of course, RADIO SHACK TRS-80.

Radio Shack was always the place for hobbyists to go for discrete electronic parts (diodes, resistors, transistors, solder, and CMOS IC chips), and until just recently for special cables and connectors that the Big Box shops would not carry.

Now there is as much, or more, interest in Radio Shack brands than there is in actually keeping Radio Shack itself around, and all those trademarks seem to have retained their value even when the company’s value is extremely strained. I just hope the next owner of REALISTIC, or of ENERCELL, or whoever wants to re-introduce the TRS-80 (hopefully, an updated version!) will keep the same pro-hobbyist spirit and the ability to get us the little products that no one else can supply.

The bankrupt company is expecting to get quite a bit of cash from the old trademarks, and maybe they will.

This is all the more reason to identify your company’s trademarks early on, and get them registered. Who know when you might have to cash them in!