Trademarks have traditionally been viewed as assets that, although intangible, nevertheless contribute to the success of firms. This study, based on a compilation of national trademark data, corrects existing distortions of the historical role of brands and their—often unsuccessful—use as business tools by countries, sectors, or firms. Legislation on, and the profuse use of, trademarks in the Western world was pioneered by Spain, rather than by France, the United States, or the United Kingdom, and was initiated in unusual sectors, such as papermaking and textiles, rather than in the more usual ones of food and beverages. Analysis of the applicants of Catalan trademarks, across sectors, during almost a century, reveals that the legal possession of a brand cannot in itself guarantee a firm's success.
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