The Doctor Is In

In February of this year, Eastman Kodak licensed Dealmed, a medical supply manufacturer and distributor, for a line of Kodak-branded infrared thermometers. The products, which allow for accurate, non-contact temperature readings, are available in the U.S. and South American markets.

Thermometers are likely to remain in demand post-pandemic. Not only are they perennially necessary for everyday use, but taking temperatures at public events, private gatherings, schools, workplaces, and the like is one tool organizers have at their disposal to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as society opens up again.

Not all brands or properties make sense in this category, where established players are already in place and credibility and trust are key. That said, there have been a number of IPs that have launched medical thermometers over the years. Several older deals have expired, however, perhaps signaling the difficulty of succeeding in this space.

Some examples of licensing agreements, both recent and past:

  • Procter & Gamble’s Braun brand and its licensee Helen of Troy (through the latter’s Kaz division) offer a line of thermometers, including no-touch, ear, and forehead versions, that are touted as the number-one brand recommended by pediatricians. Helen of Troy and Kaz also market classic-style Vicks thermometers, also under license from P&G, which is represented by Beanstalk for licensing.
  • The American Red Cross, represented by Seltzer Licensing Group, works with The First Years on a range of infrared thermometers, sold both separately and as one component of their baby health care and grooming kits.
  • In 2016, Sesame Workshop forged a deal with Kinsa for a character-shaped smart ear thermometer intended to make temperature checks less stressful for young children. The readings took only one second, and the app gave recommendations for care based on age, fever level, and other symptoms.
  • Timex launched a line of licensed digital thermometers with MEDport almost two decades ago, in 2002.
  • Westinghouse offered a branded smart ear and forehead thermometer for babies, produced by Chinese medical device maker HeTaiDa. LMCA is the licensing agent for Westinghouse.

The broader category of medical products and services has been of occasional interest to property owners. This segment can be seen as an extension of the health/wellness sector that has been so important in licensing recently, and it offers white space for appropriate brands and properties.

Examples of partnership activity in the medical segment have been diverse. Disney EMEA paired earlier this year with Royal Philips to provide animation for MRI offices in six European hospitals as part of clinical research on how to reduce stress for patients. Kathy Ireland signed a licensing deal in 2018 with Molecular Testing Labs to make her the official brand ambassador for the company’s My Home Tests to detect sexually transmitted infections. In 2015, Univision and Televisa partnered with EC Benefit Plans and Careington International for the El Chavo Plan, a discount dental and vision care savings program.

And, of course, many licensors have associated their properties with medical scrubs used by healthcare professionals. Last year, the NFLPA signed a deal with TIScrubs, joining the likes of Jockey, Marc Ecko, Cherokee, Vera Bradley, Disney, Dickey’s, and many more in this category.

While licensed medical thermometers are limited in number, it should be noted that several licensors have extended their properties into other types of thermometers, from meat thermometers (e.g. Farberware) to air-temperature thermometers for indoor and/or outdoor use (e.g., Coca-Cola, the NHL, John Deere, and many others). Deals in the latter group tend to be more about decorative than functional characteristics, with some exceptions.

A reminder: Raugust Communications’ monthly e-newsletter comes out tomorrow, July 20. The Licensing Topic of the Month discusses the increasingly important direct-to-consumer e-commerce landscape, while the Datapoint research spotlight analyzes the property types that are active in the NFT space. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can sign up for this free publication here.

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