Trademark issues are hardly a bundle of laughs. In fact, they downright suck. As a brand owner, you put your heart and soul into your business, so to have someone try to piggyback off your success can lead to a whole lot of stress, frustration and anger—not to mention legal costs and complications. We recently detailed the Comic-Con and Stone Brewing trademark disputes, two examples of how big brands and underdogs alike can stand up for themselves and fight back against would-be copycats.
Cases like these are important for other brands and trademark specialists to understand, as they offer insight into the costs and benefits of protecting your trademark, as well as the risks to your reputation when you set out to steal another brand’s identity. We can all agree that TrademarkInfringement.Sucks, but let’s take a closer look at how five other brands have decided to fight back in 2018.
Adidas vs. Sketchers
An ongoing dispute pits athletic footwear brands Adidas and Sketchers against one another in accusations of style mimicry and influencer bribery. A U.S. Court ruled in Adidas’ favor in an issue regarding a Stan Smith shoe lookalike produced by rival Sketchers. What makes this case interesting is Sketchers’ insistence that Adidas unfairly cornered the pro-athlete market with “bribes” directed at rising high school and college stars, which they claim resulted in “Adidas’s ill-gotten profits.”
Mystic Mac vs. Everyone
MMA fighter Conor McGregor, self-proclaimed “Mystic Mac”, encountered some trouble while trying to trademark his professional moniker. MAC cosmetics pushed back against his use of the name “Mac”, claiming that any men’s hygiene products released under that title might cause confusion with the MAC brand, who already deals in a similar market. Mac Jeans, McGregor clothing and Notorious fightwear brand have all taken similar issue with his attempted trademark of various words and phrases that are associated with him. McGregor’s attempt to trademark a drink called “Notorious Irish” in the U.S. received similar pushback from Birkedal Hartmann, who owns the Notorious Wines, Notorious One and Notorious Gold brands.
Hershey’s Candies vs. Cannabis Culture
Hershey’s first took issue with cannabis candies mimicking its popular sweet treats in 2014, when it sued two creators of such products. And they’re back on the warpath again. Hershey’s has sent cease-and-desist letters to two cannabis product companies recently: Harborside and Good Girl Cannabis Co. Hershey’s takes issue with cannabis infused parodies of its well-known brands, like Jolly Ranchers, and has demanded thousands for “liquidated damages”. It’s not just the cannabis industry that’s on the receiving end of Hershey’s wrath—they also took on a landscaping company for infringing on the Reese’s logo.
Tinder vs. Bumble
“If You Can’t Woo ’Em, Sue ’Em”, says Fortune of the failed courtship of popular dating apps Tinder and Bumble. Match Group, owner of Tinder, is filing a lawsuit against rival Bumble for copying its “card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” and using its “inventions, patented designs, trademarks and trade secrets.” Part of the issue stems from the fact two of Bumbles founders are ex-Tinder employees, who allegedly adapted trade secrets into the new company against confidentiality agreements.
PUBG and “Battle Royale” Clones
Player Unknown Battlegrounds (aka PUBG) is a widely popular online video game that pits 100 players against one another in a fight for the illustrious “Chicken Dinner” (the game’s playful term for being the last entrant standing). The massively successful formula of a 1-v-1, 100-player battle royale was quickly adapted by other developers, most notably Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale, another runaway hit. It seems that Epic dodged a potential lawsuit by making enough changes in the game to differentiate it from PUBG, specifically its use of building shelters and traps as a major in-game mechanic. Not all PUBG-clones were quite so lucky, though. Chinese gaming company NetEase is being sued on the basis that their games Rules of Survival and Knives Out display examples of copyright infringement, unfair competition and trade dress infringement.
Copycats, confusion and personal clashes—the world of trademark disputes is vast and varied. Keeping up-to-date on the latest trademark drama will better prepare you to protect the likeness of your own brand and products against infringement. Your brand’s reputation and recognition are your most powerful assets, so it’s well worth taking every possible precaution to safeguard them against those who might attempt to steal your success.
Trademarks are of critical importance; protect yours with a .SUCKS domain.
Photo Credits: Shuttterstock / photobyphotoboy, Shutterstock / 2p2play, Shutterstock / ShutterstockProfessional, Shutterstock / sezer66