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Green Branch® Is a Federally Registered Trademark

“PNC has more certified green buildings than any company on Earth.”
– PNC website

Here’s something interesting you might not have heard. In 2008, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office approved a federal trademark application from PNC Financial Services for the term ‘green branch.’

Reality Check: People are going to use the term “green branch” like people use Kleenex. Policing this term will be next to impossible. Fail to enforce a trademark — even once — and the USPTO may declare it null and void.

“Consumers want to do business with socially responsible companies and PNC is leading the way.”
– Neil Hall,
Head of PNC Retail

Just the same, someone at Wachovia better pay attention. They plan to build only “green” financial centers by the end of this year, including 300 new “green branches” by 2010. This PNC trademark might force them to call their green branches something else, which would actually be a good thing from a branding perspective.

With over 40 LEED certified green branches, PNC is a long way ahead of Chase, who just built its first green branch last summer.

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30 seconds on PNC’s green branches:

  • PNC claims to be the first U.S. bank to apply green building standards to all newly constructed or renovated retail branch offices.
  • PNC built the financial services industry’s first LEED Gold green building.
  • With 1,500 employees, PNC’s Pittsburgh operations center was the largest LEED-certified green building in the world when it opened in 2000
  • PNC says employee retention and satisfaction is as much as 50 percent better than traditional facilities.
  • Compared to traditional branches, energy usage is reduced 50 percent or more and water usage is reduced by 6,200 gallons a year.
  • PNC has a special page on its website celebrating the way the bank differentiates itself with green branches.

PNC branch interior PNC ‘green’ sign

Key Takeaway:

  • Only play the green card if you are truly leading the way in some category (as PNC does).

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  1. Pierre Burns says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Great blog and great post! We’ve just posted a free Whitepaper entitled ‘A Credit Union Guide to Climate Change and Green House Gas Management’. It was written by Strandberg Consulting and has real world case studies and examples of what some ‘green leaders’ in the space in Canada are doing. Case studies include Vancity, Envision, iNova and Alterna. I invite you to check it out



  2. Postscript: I ran across this article and thought it was worth recording here. Apparently the USPTO originally rejected PNC’s trademark application. PNC appealed and a review board ruled in favor of PNC. A trademark attorney provides good insights and explains why, in his view, this was a horrible decision.

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