One of the most fascinating traits of trademarks is how they become part of our shared culture, seeping into our daily lives in a way that we don’t even realize until they are gone but not forgotten.
Some trademarks persist for generations, as others fade into memory as they are abandoned, only to reappear in movies, creating a sense of nostalgia.
Case in point: You may have noticed the reference to Gimbel’s Department Stores in the popular holiday movie Elf.
Gimbels was so successful, that in 1922 the chain went public, offering shares on the New York Stock Exchange (though the Gimbel family retained a controlling interest).
By the time of World War II, profits had risen to a net worth of $500 million, or over $8 billion in today’s money.
Gimbels New York flagship store was located in the cluster of large department stores that surrounded Herald Square – the current home of Macy’s.
By 1987, Gimbels no longer existed as a department store chain.
However, a small souvenir store in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, actually still owns the federal trademark, as it has existed as “Gimbel & Brothers Country Store” since the early 1970’s.
Indeed, Director Jon Favreau reportedly paid the country store $5,000 in licensing fees to use the Gimbel’s name in Elf.