The whole David and Goliath trademark thing continues with two new players. Meet SPARC International, a self-described “extremely valuable asset” belonging to Sun Microsystems, and SparkFun Electronics, a website where you can buy things to make little robots and stuff.
Matt Nadeau, the owner of a tiny Vermont brewery being sued by the makers of the Monster energy drink for brewing a beer called “Vermonster,” has taken his case to the people. He says that trademark attorneys keep telling him the law is with him, but that he should just give up because it will be too expensive to litigate. “This is just about principle,” Nadeau told the AP. “Corporate America can’t be allowed to do this, in this day and age. It’s just not right.”
When is a “W” not a letter? When Apple Inc. says it’s a piece of fruit, that’s when. The iPod-maker and self-declared ruler of all things pomaceous has decided that the stylized W adopted by Australian supermarket chain Woolworths as its logo looks a little too much like Apple’s own logo, and that’s reason enough to claim trademark infringement.
Miami Herald personal finance blogger Natalie McNeal is going all “Highlander” with her “Frugalista” moniker. As in, there can only be one. She trademarked the term and had a lawyer send out cease and desist letters to at least one other Frugalista.
Well, that didn’t last long. Back in January, we were hopeful that Monster Cable had seen the error of its stupid ways and stopped suing everyone but the dictionary for using the word “monster” in their title. They were just hibernating, it seems, and now they’re back and bullying another company—this time a family-owned transmission manufacturer in Florida named Monster Transmission.
A well-respected lawyer has a simple message for corporations: stop suing disgruntled customers who start websites to air their grievances. Though William Pecau of Steptoe & Johnson thinks that online gripers are “self-righteous narcissists with time on their hands,” he also realizes that “shutting down a gripe site generally is not easy, often cannot be done, and often is counterproductive.” Pecau goes on to explain exactly why most online gripers are safe from over-hyped takedown notices…
Angela and Vanessa Simmons, daughters of Reverend Run of Run-D.M.C., are following the Hot Topic business model of ripping off the designs of other people. In this case, their fashion line Pastry keeps putting out t-shirt designs that are uncomfortably similar to the tees that Johnny Cupcakes puts out first. Last Spring, he had his lawyer contact them about trademark infringement, but he says that hasn’t stopped them from using his line as a free design resource. Classy!
Citing trademark infringement concern, T-mobile is demanding that gadget blog site Engadget Mobile stop using magenta in its logo. In a letter posted sent to Engadget, T-Mobile pronounced, “Based on the different character of the goods and services offered by the Deusche Telekom Group and Weblogs, we assume that it is in the best interest of both of our entities to ensure that the particular services can be clearly separated and that consumers are not confused…” And it’s not an early April Fool’s joke, they say. It’s not totally unreasonable, there is precedent for this sort of thing. Like the time T-Mobile sued a small a book-on-demand-publisher for having magenta in its logo.
Lifestyle Lift claims it’s a “minor one-hour procedure with major results,” but a lot of customers who have paid for the procedure have been left unhappy, and they’ve consequently posted reviews about it on a plastic surgery review blog called RealSelf. Lifestyle Lift has sued RealSelf, claiming trademark infringement, and now RealSelf has countersued, claiming Lifestyle Lift padded RealSelf’s site with shill reviews.
Better not use a green circle for your coffee shop logo because Starbucks has lawyers and they’ll sue ya. Conga Coffee & Tea, a small two-store operation in Michigan, is being threatened with a lawsuit because their logo bears “striking resemblance” to Starbucks’ famous mermaid logo. At least that’s what Starbucks says.
Andre Agassi is suing Target for slapping his name on a pair of brown men’s flip-flops without his permission, says the AP.
TerraCycle a small, not yet profitable, organic fertilizer company based in lovely Trenton, New Jersey is being sued for trademark infringement and false advertising by the manufacturers of MiracleGro. The complaint stems from TerraCycle’s use of the colors yellow and green in their packaging. TerraCycle sells organic liquefied “worm poop” packaged in donated plastic soda bottles. Scott’s is a $2.7 billion dollar company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Only a few days after confirming that legal action would proceed against the tiny Tan Hiill Inn for the use of the trademarked term “Family Feast” on their once-a-year Christmas menu, KFC has changed its tiny chicken-sized mind.
Over at Branding Post, we saw this quote about a grim dystopian future in which the word coffee no longer exists: when you pendulously breasted IHOP waitress emerges in a puff of brown cigarette smoke from the kitchens to demand your order, you won’t ask for a cup of coffee. You’ll ask for a Starbucks.