Yesterday, Publishers Weekly reported that Barnes & Noble acquired a large portion of former rival Borders’s intellectual property assets. The company acquired a most of the failed bookseller’s rights, including the following:
- Internet Domain Names
- Borders.com Website
- Borders Trademarks – includes Borders, Waldenbook, and Bretano’s
The purchase must still be purchased by a bankruptcy court. Anime News Network notes that “Court records had listed Borders’ membership lists and customer information as assets to be auctioned.” The company didn’t claim all of Borders’s intellectual assets, though. A portion went to several organizations that operated Borders franchises across the world, including Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd.’s acquisition of the Aussie rights, and Al Maya International’s acquistiion of the United Arab Emirates rights to the Borders branding.
This entire situation strikes me as an amusing, if not fitting end to Borders as a whole. The bookstore, which was always seen as a rival to Barnes & Noble, has ultimately self-destructed after years of poor management and negative profits. And, to top it off, Barnes & Noble claimed the ultimate victory by claiming the very identity of its rival as its own. To obain these rights, Barnes & Noble bidded fiercely though 50 rounds against several major companies and online sellers.
In a more realistic sense, this is a preventative measure. By buying these rights, Barnes and Noble ensured that they wouldn’t have to deal with the potential threat of a Borders revival. With the intellectual rights of the fallen Borders, Barnes & Noble ensured that no other retailers can open under the names of the company or its subsidiary. At the same time, the purchase of the Borders.com site is an attractive lure, which can be used to market to former Borders customers without alienating the base immediately.
If handled properly, Barnes & Noble will be able to increase its customer-base through former Borders devotees (they exist), and find new revenue streams for both its book and Nook sales. In addition, they will be able to leverage the brands they’ve purchased, in order to provide familiar locations for those who may be averse to shopping at Barnes & Noble’s locations.
However, this is merely speculation. Large businesses tend to use the “safe” bets in regards to situations like this. They’re not as agile as smaller businesses, start-ups, or other lean agencies, which makes it more likely that their moves will be predictable and more of a holding pattern. Since Barnes & Noble is at the top of the market, they will be looking to expand their Nook business, and maintain their hold on general market-share in the retail sector. With this in mind,, we’ll most likely see Borders use the rights as a ward against imitators and would-be competitors.