A one man band: protecting the Zippo brand


A one man band: protecting the Zippo brand

As general counsel at Zippo, Jeff Duke is in charge of a huge budget for protecting the lighter maker’s trademarks. WIPR finds out more about his work and why he applied for a new gTLD.

Jeff Duke is a busy man. As general counsel at Zippo, Duke has virtually sole responsibility for protecting the lighter manufacturer’s famous brand. Zippo, with its refillable lighters and intricate designs, has been an attraction for smokers and collectors alike for more than 80 years.

It is not just smokers (traditionally outdoor enthusiasts and soldiers) who have been reeled in by the lighters’ durability. Nor is it just collectors, attracted by the lighters’ colourful decorations, who have queued up to buy them. The success of Zippo—it sold its 500 millionth lighter last year—has brought unwanted attention.

“We are the only lighter in the world that is counterfeited in great quantity,” says Duke. “That’s because our lighters are sold in significant volumes and we get a reasonable price for them: you can make a lot of money selling counterfeit Zippo lighters. We don’t sell nearly as many as BIC, but you would have to counterfeit plastic lighters in huge volumes to make any money, because each one is so inexpensive.

Zippo, brand protection, Jeff Duke, gTLDs, cybersquatting