Sony Corp.'s new slogan for its consumer electronics line was intended as a simple anthem to individuality: "Like No Other."
Turns out, though, that the company's "marketing mantra" is like quite a few others.
Haagen-Dazs ice cream is advertised as "Made Like No Other," Bloomingdale's is "Like No Other Store In the World" and a Riverside clothing manufacturer emblazons "Like No Other" on the front of a bikini thong.
"We are in the middle of an increasingly commoditized economy, with companies striving to differentiate themselves," said Noah Manduke, managing director of branding firm Siegel & Gale in Los Angeles. "Sony is trying to tell the world there is a difference. A DVD player is not just another DVD player if it's a Sony."
But companies don't want a phrase so common that it becomes commonplace.
Although that could be the fate of "Like No Other," John Dolak, a spokesman for the Japanese electronics giant, said Sony had no plans to drop the line.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 22 registered trademarks include the phrase "Like No Other." And 16 more are pending -- including those of Sony and KMCBrand, the thong maker that also sells a variety of custom car products.
Granting trademarks with the same phrases is common, said trademark administrator Sharon Marsh, as long as there couldn't be confusion between the products.
KMC, which applied to use "Like No Other" for its clothing, registered it several years ago for its car parts. Kevin Fitzgerald, president of the 20-employee company, said he knew he had a hot phrase when he fielded several calls from a New York law firm wanting to buy the trademark.
"They would never say who they represented and we wouldn't sell. We wanted to protect our brand," said Fitzgerald, adding that "we kind of thought about going after Sony when they started using it. But they are a bit bigger than us."