The Trademark “Hacky Sack”

So I have had this crazy idea bouncing around my head for a couple of weeks. I think we should buy back the trademark “Hacky Sack”!

The Idea

It will probably never happen but I will share my thoughts on it anyways.

A little history lesson: Hacky Sack was invented in 1972 by John Stallberger and Mike Marshall. Marshall died of a heart attack in 1975 and Stallberger continued to push the sport and the business. It gained popularity in the early 80s and was registered as a trademark in 1981. In 1983 John Stallberger and others sold the title to toy producer Wham-O.
“Why should we buy it back?” you might think. Here are my reasons:

  1. Hacky Sack is a better name than footbag.
  2. We can control who produces hacky sacks, make sure they are of a certain quality and that they give out the right information
  3. We could earn money on licensing
  4. It is a worldwide known brand
  5. By buying it back and controlling the trademark we could work against the stoner image much more focused.

The Image of Hacky Sack

Wouldn’t it be too hard to change the image of Hacky Sack?

It would be hard, but not impossible.

Public perception changes naturally over time for all sports. Skateboarding went from being considered a fad, to a DIY business sensation, to almost dying and today to be big business. And the perception of skateboarders has changed from being seen as long haired weed smokers, to destructive drug addicts and adrenaline junkies to well respected athletes and businessmen.>

Our problem is that we are known to the public as hacky sackers, but we are so scared of the name (+ it is a trademark), that we have no chance of changing the perception of it.
Another semi-related topic to this is fashion. Skateboard companies doesn’t earn their money on selling boards but on clothes and shoes. This is a field I am sad that footbag hasn’t tried to get into early. Now you might say that short shorts and no shirt is not fashionable and it probably isn’t, but footbaggers could look more fashionable. Sneakers are big business and in fashion (why do you think the Rod Laver was re released?) and short shorts and tights are in fashion – Just take a look at Mr. Jeezus

The Financing

I have heard that the trademark was originally sold to Wham-O from around 1-1.5 million dollars. I don’t know anything about big business or trademarks on a monetary scale but according to this site 1-1.5 million would be 2.5-3.5 million today due to inflation.

I am pretty sure it would cost much more than that for a couple of reasons:

  • Wham-O would want to get something back for what they have invested in promotion over the years<
  • With the way Wham-O seems to handle the Hacky Sack brand, I am pretty sure it is a decent Cash cow* for them. You don’t want to sell your cash cows unless you get a lot of money for them.
  • I am sure it is much harder to buy something from big business than the original inventor

*Cash cow is business jargon for a business venture that generates a steady return of profits that far exceed the outlay of cash required to acquire or start it.

And now you might think “Why could this not happen?”. Simply because I think it would be waaaay too expensive. However if I won a 100 million dollars I would totally give it an attempt.

You can search up the trademark here:
Here is Wham-O’s page about Hacky Sack:


Written by Asmus Helms

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