The celebrity polar bear made the zoo profitable for the first time – and spawned everything from books to candy

June 02, 2011 05:35 PM

He was a precious baby, with doll-like button eyes that charmed the public, but Knut the polar bear also made them pull out their wallets.

The Berlin Zoo’s most famous resident, who died earlier this year, generated more than $140 million in business globally, according to BusinessWeek.

There were raspberry-flavored Knut gummi bears, books, movies, stuffed animals and more. He even helped make the 167-year-old Berlin Zoo profitable, which happened only for three years while Knut was at the zoo.

But now what happens now to Knut’s brand?

It could still be profitable, but the Berlin Zoo, which owns the rights to Knut’s trademark, is being very selective about licensing, choosing to keep Knut’s messaging about protecting the environment.

But some feel the zoo – and others who could profit – is losing out.

“A dead Knut brand could still make millions,” Birgit Clark, a trademark attorney, said. Whether it does or not is yet to be seen.

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