Trademark Bullies Strike Again

Some trademark owners are bullies:

Other trademark owners are legitimately aggressive in protecting their rights:

Here are some of the logos Apple, Inc. has gone after in one 12-month period.

What do you think? Is Apple, Inc. a bully or legitimately protecting its rights?

To answer that question, we should start with a comparison of the marks themselves and then compare the goods and services sold under the marks we’re comparing.

Here’s Apple Inc.’s logo. Would someone looking at the logos pictured above think of Apple, Inc.?

Here are the goods and services sold under the logos pictured. Which of these are similar to the goods and services sold by Apple, Inc.?

  • Meal planning app
  • Sales of computers and phones
  • Weight loss consulting services
  • Case management services to people with disabilities
  • Test preparation services
  • Sex coaching services
  • Online grocery store services
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Occupational therapy services
  • Health counseling
  • Psychological counseling
  • Primary and secondary school education

Trademark owners should protect their rights but always with an eye toward whether there’s a genuine likelihood of confusion. So waddaya think, bully or not?

Thank you to Murray L. for the suggestion that led to this post.

Ode to the Solo® Cup

The SOLO® cup. That ubiquitous beaker of beer. Round at the top, square at the bottom. Often dispensed and always indispensable.

1953. That’s the year Solo Cup Operating Corporation first used SOLO® for “disposable plastic and paper drink cups”. But that simple description of goods on a trademark registration can’t begin to plumb the depths where SOLO® resides in our collective consciousness. That place is deeper than the red of the SOLO® outside and more pure than the white of its inside.

Solo Cup’s residency in the zeitgeist of beverages doesn’t end there.

Solo Cup’s TRAVELER® lid is so iconic that it was added to the permanent collection for design at MoMA® in New York City.

Solo Cup bought SWEETHEART® brand paper cups in 2004. That trademark was first used in 1940 and, for me, recalls childhood trips to the dentist.

The WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU® coffee cup is yet another Sweetheart product acquired by Solo Cup. It dates to 1960 yet still manages to evoke thoughts of ancient Greece.

Have you noticed the outline of a SOLO cup contained in the second “O” of the SOLO logo? What diabolical genius hid that in plain sight so many years ago?

A trademark of beauty is a joy for ever.