Saturday, 4 June 2016

Trademark =/= Entirely Owning Words

If the purpose of trademarks is to enable consumers to distinguish between one legal entity and another, Caribou Coffee V Blue Caribou Cafe should have been thrown out of court on the grounds that there's no realistic chance of confusion.

I heard about this story a few weeks back from friends in Michigan who can't believe our court systems are so rigged that the big guy corporations can beat up a mom and pop shop that isn't even within the geographic sphere of the corporation's locations. TripMN, comment on Caribou Coffee Learns That Even When You Win As A Trademark Bully, You Can Still Lose (Techdirt)

And if the point of getting a trademark is to keep that sweet, sweet goodwill all to yourself where the use of your name is concerned, it seems that, for Caribou Coffee, this is backfiring over their control freakery over the word "caribou." Oh dear. Another commenter suggested that Caribou Coffee rescue its reputation by asking the Blue Caribou Cafe to sell its coffee product, thereby demonstrating the difference between the two entities, but as he wrote, it's probably too late. In any case, why try to be reasonable when it's easier to bash?

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