By Yayi Ding
It’s official – Kobe Bryant has trademarked the phrase: “Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever.”
The motto originated from a 2015 interview with Kobe, when a reporter asked him about “not being a great friend all the time.” His response captured the relentless drive that has defined him as a basketball player: “Friends can come and go, but banners hang forever.” As Kobe’s NBA career comes to a close, his legal efforts offer more insight into his business acumen and his post-retirement preparations.
Over the past few years, followers have speculated over Kobe Bryant’s plans after he finishes playing basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers. This speculation has grown stronger since Kobe announced that the current 2015-2016 season will be his last. Meanwhile, the “Black Mamba” (as fans have come to known him) has also shared some of his own thoughts. While team ownership may be an option, he does not intend to coach a squad, admitting that he simply does not have the patience for it. Nonetheless, Kobe’s most concrete step taken thus far is in the direction of launching his own business ventures.
Kobe incorporated Kobe Inc. in California in 2013, and the company now has at least 10 trademarks to its name, including “Create Forever,” “Dream Epic,” and “Herovillain.” The trademarks’ descriptions suggest that Kobe Inc. may use them to produce athletic apparel, advertising, sports programs, and online social networking services. One particular trademark – “HV” (presumably short-hand for “Herovillain”) – appeared in the open letter Kobe wrote to his fans to announce his retirement. That letter has already started to build recognition for his new trademark, since he likely knew that many people would share his retirement announcement in the social media sphere. This turned out to be true – Kobe’s followers retweeted his letter nearly 130,000 times in the first three days!
Since its inception, Kobe Inc. has made waves with its investment in the emerging sports drink BodyArmor, which purports to be an alternative to Gatorade and Powerade. An up-and-coming product, BodyArmor produced $10 million in sales the year before Kobe Inc. entered the scene, and it looks to reach even greater heights with its new investor on board.
Kobe Bryant holds grand ambitions for his post-basketball business career. Indeed, Kobe Inc.’s mission statement is “to own and grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring the world.” To that end, recognizing the importance of trademarking his ideas, logos, and even his phrases, is a good start to building the next chapter of his legacy.
What’s next for the Black Mamba? Only time will tell!
Image source: espn.com.