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Episode 652: The Hydrox Resurrection

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

A trademark is a funny kind of property. It's different from a patent, it's different from owning the rights to a song. A trademark can be a single word, a slogan, a logo. It isn't owning the business, it's owning the things that make the business distinct and recognizable, what sets it apart. Trademarks serves two purposes: To prevent confusion for consumers, and to discourage knock-offs. You can think of it as a relationship between a company and its customers. It's a signal that tells people buying a product: We made this, and it's legit.

But when a company stops using a trademark, it no longer serves that purpose. The trademark is deemed abandoned. When that happens, anyone can reclaim it.

Today on the show: A man tries to build a nostalgia-fueled empire of iconic-but-forgotten brands. His biggest prize yet is the once-famous Hydrox cookie. He wants to bring it back. But first, he'll have to take the Hydrox name from the hands of a big-time company--and figure out how to recreate the taste.

Music: "The Great Northwest." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

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David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.