Tourism agency wants royalties from state trademarks
The Hawaii Tourism Authority is looking at licensing designs and logos that promote the islands
WHAT'S IN A NAME? Maybe money.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state agency responsible for overseeing the development of the state's visitor industry, is pursuing a plan to generate additional revenues through the licensing of the trademarks used to promote Hawaii as a destination.
The agency has asked Gov. Linda Lingle for her permission to obtain private revenues through the licensing of state-owned intellectual property.
The designs, logos and terms developed by the state's visitor industry, such as its rainbow-colored brushstroke Hawaii with the tag line, "The Islands of Aloha," can be sold to those who want to use the state-owned trademarks to promote their goods and services, said Winfred Pong, the authority's project manager.
"We hope to maintain a detailed record for the use of all state-owned trademarks," Pong said. "We hope to generate revenues, fund additional public projects and gain additional exposure of the Hawaii brand, which will enhance the goodwill of Hawaii as a place for personal well-being."
It's a concept other destinations such as New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania have successfully used to earn royalties on everything from souvenirs to shirts, mugs, novelties, stationary and key chains, he said.
Locally, the University of Hawaii also has used this concept to gross about $300,000 in royalties during the last three years, Pong said.
If the program is approved, the state first will target Internet-based businesses and retail stores that cater to visitors. Any revenues earned would go to tourism programs, said Frank Haas, the HTA's marketing director.
"We get requests all the time that we really want to fund, but we don't have the budget," Haas said. "This would allow us to have a source of funds that would cover unplanned expenses."
There is already a proven interest in the Hawaii trademark, Pong said. The state has executed 100 license agreements with advertisers and tourism marketers in the last 10 months.
The state Department of Agriculture uses the logo on made-in-Hawaii products as part of its seal-of-quality program and the HTA has gotten requests both in the United States and abroad for organizations to use the trademark on manufactured goods, he said.
"This would be a way for us to earn revenues and maintain control of who is using our logo," Pong said.
If a trademark licensing program goes into effect as recommended, the HTA's marketing and noncommercial government partners would continue to use the state's intellectual properties at no cost, but other organizations that wanted to use the trademark would have to negotiate royalty fees, which would likely range between 6 and 15 percent of gross revenues.
HTA board member Lorrie Lee Stone said she had concerns. "I applaud the creativity, but we don't have the means to enforce this," Stone said. "Enforcement of intellectual property could be even more expensive than the revenues that we could bring in."
The HTA agreed to further weigh the benefits and risks of trademark licensing before implementing a program. However, in general, most board members supported the concept.
"The fact is that someone could be knocking it off right now and we're not enforcing it -- so there's no loss," said HTA Board Member Sharon Weiner.