While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, it’s generally more nefarious when it comes to consumer goods. From electronics and handbags right down to the iconic Zippo windproof lighter, almost every product with widespread notoriety has been subject to counterfeit.
Aside from being poorly made, counterfeit products – especially counterfeit Zippo products – can pose negative economic, health and safety consequences on our consumers and our community and are also often tied to child labor and organized crime.
We put together this webpage to inform our consumers about Zippo’s trademark rights, help them identify counterfeit or infringing Zippo products and to explain how counterfeit Zippo products cause severe problems in the marketplace. We encourage you to explore this content and help keep our marketplace free of counterfeit, and potentially unsafe, products!
Zippo has been manufacturing its famous windproof lighter and other consumer goods for 90 years. Over that time, Zippo has made considerable investments in establishing its brand and goodwill and is honored to have earned the trust and admiration of such an amazing collector and fan base (like you, reading this webpage!). We’re proud that the word Zippo is instantly synonymous with quality and integrity in the minds of our customers.
Over the years, Zippo has built up extensive trademark rights throughout the world to protect its likeness as well as virtually every feature of the windproof lighter. For example, Zippo has trademark registrations for its internationally recognized wordmark, stylized logo (with a flame over the “i”) and flame icon. In fact, courts have even distinguished the Zippo mark as a famous trademark, which is an exclusive status reserved for only the most recognized household names!
Furthermore, the windproof lighter’s iconic shape, chimney hole pattern and unmistakable “click” sound are all registered trademarks. Did you know that Zippo paved the way in many countries with one of the first registrations covering product sounds?
Zippo also owns trademark rights for the service of custom-decorated lighters and some of our most popular decorations, like the Venetian® design. Zippo’s protection does not end with just trademark rights: all of Zippo’s lighter decorations are covered by copyright, and some features of our windproof lighter are even protected by patent rights.
These registrations, among Zippo’s other intellectual property rights, mean that other parties are prohibited from using Zippo marks on products that are not genuine Zippo products. It is important that our customers know how to identify counterfeit or infringing products and understand the damage they can cause in the marketplace.
Here are some ways to identify a counterfeit or infringing product:
- A lighter that was not manufactured by Zippo but is marked with the Zippo trademark (either on the product or in the product description). Look for signs of Zippo’s high quality standards. If you see any low-quality features, misspellings or grainy designs, it is likely not a genuine lighter. Familiarize yourself with Zippo’s <date code system> to make sure that the marking (if any) is accurate. Finally, if the price of the lighter is unrealistically low compared to genuine Zippo lighters, then it is probably not made of the quality materials that Zippo uses, nor made with the sophisticated manufacturing practices that Zippo has refined over 90 years.
- A lighter that is in the same protected shape of Zippo’s iconic windproof lighter, but the Zippo mark is not present. Because Zippo has unique trademark protection over the shape in most countries, other parties can’t sell lighters with the same shape. See below for an image of Zippo’s registered shape.
- A genuine ZIPPO®-brand lighter that has been decorated without Zippo’s authorization. Unauthorized decorations may violate third-party intellectual property rights (if the decoration has the trademark or artwork of another party without their approval), contain harmful materials or fall short of Zippo’s quality standards.
Zippo takes great pride in assuring that all of our genuine, authorized products meet the highest safety and quality standards. All Zippo windproof lighters comply with ASTM F400, and all Zippo utility lighters comply with ASTM F2201. Products that are not authorized by Zippo may not meet these same high standards, which could lead to quality and even severe product safety issues. In addition, Zippo offers a unique lifetime guarantee on its windproof lighters (other than the finish and/or decoration). Zippo is unable to extend this warranty to cover unauthorized products.
How can you help?
By identifying and reporting counterfeit Zippo products, you are rejecting and calling attention to the criminal practices of intellectual property theft and exploitation of both consumers and laborers. Not only are deceptive products meant to fool unwitting buyers, but they are most often constructed in unsafe facilities with unfair labor practices – namely, the use of child labor.
First, look carefully at Zippo products before you purchase them. If you spot a counterfeit or infringing lighter, don’t buy it! Instead, please report it to us so we can ensure that other consumers do not unknowingly purchase a counterfeit or unauthorized product. You can email email@example.com, or if your report is about the Asia market, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your help in keeping the marketplace free of counterfeit products!