Uncovering the value of IP at the … Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service has been playing catch-up for decades, trying to manage ever-rising costs against static and falling revenues, in the teeth of stiff competition from package carriers and electronic mail.  Someone at USPS has taken stock of intrinsic assets, including IP, and a new revenue stream is born.

Limited to postage, products and services for revenue, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to launch a new product line of apparel and accessories under the brand name, “Rain Heat & Snow.” The organization has licensed the brand with Cleveland-based fashion apparel company Wahconah Group, Inc.

Postal Service Corporate Licensing Manager Steven Mills describes the thrust of the new venture: “The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create ‘smart apparel’ — also known as wearable electronics.” CNN reports the line will feature cutting-edge, all-weather gear with MP3 syncing abilities.

Wahconah is putting up a showroom in New York City’s garment district to attract premier department and specialty stores. They will initially introduce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories for men, with future plans for women’s apparel.

This is the fourth time the Postal Service has applied for a trademark on the phrase Rain Heat & Snow (one was for RHS All Weather Body) since 2002. The latest application was filed Nov. 27, 2012, and was published for comment February 5; the prior three were abandoned in 2002 and 2003. Prior efforts sought to cover apparel, kitchenware, luggage and wallets, and other products; the current application is for apparel only, which, assuming the application goes through, has the potential to bring in real money: "The going royalty rate for licensed apparel, on average, is 9.3% according to The Licensing Letter Royalty Trends Report,” says Ira Mayer, Executive Editor and Publisher of The Licensing Letter.