National Pork Board Attempting To Halt Sales Of Canned Unicorn Meat

The ever-vigilant folks at the National Pork Board are out to put an end to the sale of Radiant Farms’ canned unicorn meat. But it’s not because they want to stop the slaughter of the one-horned flying horses, it’s because they say the product infringes on their “other white meat” trademark.

The unicorn meat in question is actually a fake product dreamed up by the resident geeks at ThinkGeek.com for April Fool’s. But in the site’s listing for the product it had read “Pate is passe. Unicorn — the new white meat,” and that was enough to bring out the Porker’s legal cease-and-desist team.

The Pork Board lawyers put some effort into their 12-page letter to ThinkGeek, prompting the site to issue a public apology:

“It was never our intention to cause a national crisis and misguide American citizens regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn,” said Scott Kauffman, President and CEO of Geeknet. “In fact, ThinkGeek’s canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity.”

ThinkGeek also goes on to point out the irony of being attacked by the Pork Board, considering all the site has done to promote consumption of pig-based products by selling over 15 “pork-inspired” items like Bacon Soap, Bacon Lip Balm, Bacon Mints and BaconPop Flavored Popcorn.

To appease the Pork Board, ThinkGeek has now changed the slogan for Unicorn Meat to “Caviar is so 1980s. Unicorn is the sparkling, crunchy, savory meat of today’s elite.”

Officially Our Best-Ever Cease and Desist [ThinkGeek.com]

Comments

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  1. Tvhargon says:

    Unicorns can’t fly, that’s the Pegasus.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    But wait, if it’s not for sale, and not available outside of the Harry Potter-verse, how can you stop them from selling it? Besides that, doesn’t this fall under the purview of parody?

    • OSAM says:

      Had it come down to it, TG would very easily have used this as a defense. They just took the high road and poked fun back at the Pork Board, saving them the trouble.

    • [MG]LooseCannon says:

      They’ll get more and better publicity this way.

    • fantomesq says:

      If its not for sale, the mark is not being used in a trademark sense, so not trademark infringement.

    • Jemish says:

      What it comes down to is never allowing a brand to bleed out. If you let this happen once and say nothing then it can open the door for other people to gradually grasp on to the brand phrase, even in parody.

      Say someone starts “Veal the other red meat”. This same move would happen. You never want to allow your name, phrases, symbols to get confused with other companies no matter how silly it seems.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sounds like they took this pretty seriously.

  4. danmac says:

    I think the poor should file a class-action suit against ThinkGeek…aren’t they the “savory meat of today’s elite”?

  5. Hoss says:

    In case anyone needs Buckyballs — the coupon code PORKBOARD works for $10

    • Sunflower1970 says:

      I’m in the process of buying some stuff now. :-)

      Thank you NPB for giving TG a reason to give consumers a coupon code for $10 off! :-)

  6. Mike says:

    OK, this has to be a joke. I am not even an attorney, I am just married to one, but this is obviously a parody. You can’t even add the product to your cart, it clearly says it is an April Fool’s joke.

    That is one of the first things you learn in law school, that parody is protected speech as long as it is clear it is parody. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to make many jokes at all.

    These attorneys must have gone to a terrible law school or something.

    • danmac says:

      Seems like this wouldn’t hold up in court, but my guess is that ThinkGeek doesn’t have lawyers on retainer to combat entities the size of the Pork Board. I’m sure it made more sense to them in the grand scheme of things to acquiesce to the Pork Board’s ridiculous demand than to throw money at something that ultimately doesn’t gain them anything.

    • Cantras says:

      They pointed out that it’s parody in their response, but my guess is they said “we’ll change it, but it was parody to begin with so no monies from us, deal?” and the pork board went “yeaaaah let’s not be suing a website over unicorn meat.”

    • Hoss says:

      IP lawyers work like a well oiled machine. They can fire off these letters in great volume for a small fee. The real prize is actual patent litigation.

    • Merricat says:

      Actually parodies aren’t protected in trademark issues, because they can still be used to dilute/damage the trademark. Look up info on the “Enjoy Cocaine” lawsuit that Coco-Cola won, for bonus points look for the Strawberry Shortcake parody in the fashion of Alice McGee’s art that Penny Arcade did.

      On the other hand, the fact that:

      A. The original ThinkGeek slogan was “The NEW white meat”
      B. Nothing was being sold.

      Would probably be far more than enough protection for ThinkGeek had it actually gone to trial.

      The NPB is rather famous for being overly prickly about the use of it’s slogan. This is just a higher profile attack than most.

  7. eightfifteen says:

    I’ll be damned if I allow them to stop my canned mermaid meat!

  8. iggy21 says:

    You’re such a cute little animal…unfortunately, you’re made of meat!

  9. Admiral_John says:

    I wonder how much these attorneys charged the Pork Board to do this.

  10. mantari says:

    Even better? The notice was sent to Think Geek is in response to other websites using the term “The Other White Meat” when linking to their page. Nowhere on the Unicorn Meat page goes Think Geek even use the term. They use a different term, “the new white meat”, which is not claimed as a trademark by the National Pork Board.

    • PsiCop says:

      Re: “They use a different term, “the new white meat”, which is not claimed as a trademark by the National Pork Board.”

      Sure. You and I, along with most Consumerist readers — and I’d guess most other thinking people on the planet — realize this. But these are IP attorneys we’re talking about! Basing their moronic legal maneuvers on basic facts such as this, is anathema to them. They live to litigate … and can and will use any and all possible excuses (no matter how twisted or full of logical leaps and baseless assumptions they may be) in order to rationalize their asinine lawsuits. They have no shame. Not one speck of it.

  11. PsiCop says:

    The single word that leaps to mind, right now, is “facepalm.” Then again, we’re talking about IP attorneys … so one can hardly expect anything they do to be reasonable or sensible in any way.

  12. smo0 says:

    I love Think Geek…. if you guys at Think Geek are reading this…. just think about this…. what would the dudes at T-Shirt Hell say?

    Exactly.

    DON’T GIVE IN!

  13. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The lawyers probably get paid based on how many letters they send out. The real crime is that they probably billed the pork board for this!

  14. LightningUsagi says:

    “We’d like to publicly apologize to the NPB for the confusion over unicorn and pork–and for their awkward extended pause on the phone after we had explained our unicorn meat doesn’t actually exist.”

    LMAO

  15. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    “My __CK, the other white meat. Sue this!”

  16. JollyJumjuck says:

    I wonder if they are still allowed to sell unicorn mayonnaise?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akKTxYrQeR4

  17. bushidoka says:

    Unicorns don’t fly. That’s a Pegasus and it has no horn.

  18. Pinkbox says:

    It looks like an obvious parody to me, therefore should be protected under parody laws.

  19. Mr Fife says:

    Lawyers can be such tools.

  20. yankinwaoz says:

    ThinkGeek should send the Pork Board a check to cover the lawyer fee for the letter, and a nice thank you card.

    Seriously… look at how much free advertising both ThinkGeek and the Pork Board got from one stupid C&D letter. There is no way either could have bought this much coverage normally.

    Brilliant!

    • jaazzman says:

      I sent the Pork Board a quick note and got this reply:

      “While we understand the humorous nature of ThinkGeek’s “unicorn meat product,” as the owner of the The Other White Meat(r) trademark, we are required by law to challenge any infringement or dilution of the trademark or face the possibility of losing trademark protection. America’s pork producers have invested millions of dollars to successfully develop the mark The Other White Meat(r) for over 20 years. Due its success, dozens of entities have tried to capitalize on The Other White Meat(r). We face infringement and dilution nearly every week. Any infringement or dilution of the mark, no matter how big or small, could substantially lessen the mark’s value and impact for U.S. pork producers. Our only interest is in protecting U.S. pork producer’s investment in The Other White Meat(r) trademark.”

      Even after realizing it was a joke, they’re still taking it seriously.
      How are they REQUIRED BY LAW to challenge an infringement?

  21. jaazzman says:

    I sent the Pork Board a quick note and got this reply:

    “While we understand the humorous nature of ThinkGeek’s “unicorn meat product,” as the owner of the The Other White Meat(r) trademark, we are required by law to challenge any infringement or dilution of the trademark or face the possibility of losing trademark protection. America’s pork producers have invested millions of dollars to successfully develop the mark The Other White Meat(r) for over 20 years. Due its success, dozens of entities have tried to capitalize on The Other White Meat(r). We face infringement and dilution nearly every week. Any infringement or dilution of the mark, no matter how big or small, could substantially lessen the mark’s value and impact for U.S. pork producers. Our only interest is in protecting U.S. pork producer’s investment in The Other White Meat(r) trademark.”

    Even after realizing it was a joke, they’re still taking it seriously.
    How are they REQUIRED BY LAW to challenge an infringement?

    • bwcbwc says:

      If they don’t challenge a perceived infringement, they can lose the trademark. Under law.

      • jaazzman says:

        The law says they will lose the trademark, not that they HAVE to challenge the infringement. There was no requirement for them to do anything in this case.

        “we are required by law to challenge any infringement or dilution of the trademark”

        • Misha says:

          Because if they do not challenge, they may lose trademark protection. I don’t see how I can make this more simple.