An aerial view of an open cut mine

Learn from Fortescue Future Industries trademark strategy

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Fortescue Future Industries, owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, is working on pivoting away from iron ore and into green hydrogen production.
  2. The company has filed 54 trademarks on green-related products and services in Australia, including “Break Impossible,” “The Power of Now,” and “Infinity Train.”
  3. Fortescue has also filed a trademark for the name of a non-existent “Global Green Hydrogen Council.” Some of the trademarks filed have received adverse reports from IP Australia, but others have been granted registered status.

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Andrew Forrest has plans to move Fortescue away from iron ore and into green hydrogen, although sales are currently limited. There have been lots of reports on this in the media.

Fortescue Future Industries’ engineers are installing infrastructure to create hydrogen from renewable energy, whilst marketers and lawyers have applied for 54 trademarks in Australia. This process is expected to take time.

Fortescue’s copyrights range from existing products to aspirational ideas, such as green cement, iron and hydrogen.

Fortescue’s patent attorneys filed for a trademark on “Break Impossible” across several classes such as materials, education and training services, telecommunications, transport and business services. If successful this will grant them ownership of the phrase.

On March 23, IPAustralia issued Fortescue an adverse report outlining the potential objections to their copyright being granted. No oppositions have been filed since then.

Fortescue registered the slogan “The Power of Now” in the most relevant categories by Jan this year, should their ambitions need trimming.

The June 2021 filing sailed through with no adverse report, even though it shared its name with Eckhart Tolle’s renowned self-help book “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”. Published in 1997 and backed by Oprah Winfrey, this bestseller has been translated into 33 languages and sold over 2 million copies.

In February, Fortescue applied for a trademark on the phrase “Infinity Train”, an iron ore shuttle train that Forrest plans to power solely from its brakes. They also submitted one for the non-existent Global Green Hydrogen Council.

Despite suggestions to use “when hope began” as a hashtag in an Instagram campaign for the FFI agreement supplying green hydrogen to Europe, no application was made.

The planned brand campaign failed to launch after this column was leaked, but the hashtag still gained traction due to US Christian groups celebrating Easter.

Forrest’s actions may be valiant, but he likely won’t challenge the Messiah. Therefore, there is a likelihood that our rethinking was unnecessary.