Trademarks are there to protect brands and other items people want to keep people from using without the proper permission. However, some trademarks lean onto the strange side. In Valenciennes, France, two parents are in court for naming their baby after the well-known hazelnut spread, Nutella. The judge ruled that the naming is against the child’s best interest. The court stated that the name Nutella is the name of a hazlenut spread and is against the best interest of the child since it may lead to teasing. The court also said that the name could lead to inappropriate thoughts. The judge decided to name the child Ella after the parents refused to show up in court. A normal trademark case involves the popular soda brand, Coca-Cola and the social media network, Twitter.
On December 15, the soda company applied to trademark two hashtags: #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke. A hashtag is a symbol that Twitter uses to allow their users to easily find posts about important topics and the pound symbol is in front of the word to make it a hashtag. The reason for the trademark is not known but the company does encourage its followers to interact with their brand.
Two phrases that the National Football League has trademarks for are “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday.” The trademarks prevent companies from saying the words in their advertisements. If a company does use the banned words, the National Football League will issue cease and desist letters forcing them to stop using the words. If they do not stop, then they may get sued. One example of this occurred in 2007, when a church group in Indiana got a cease and desist letter from the National Football League for advertising a party to celebrate the big game while also planning on charging attendees. This letter then caused other church groups to remove similar advertisements.
There are workarounds that companies use to avoid the letters as well as to protect their brand such as the popular, big game and defining the game itself by calling it the pro football championship. Stephen Colbert, after being advised to not say the words by Comedy Central’s owner, Viacom, decided to cleverly name his 2013 coverage Superb Owl. The coverage was a mixture of owl facts and information about the big game.
A strange story involves Etsy, a website that sells handmade items, Beyoncé and mugs. Beyonce’s lawyers sent a letter to Etsy asking them to remove merchandise under the name Feyoncé, a combination of the words Beyoncé and fiancé. If they do not listen to the not-so-normal letter then the online retailer will face a lawsuit. The company did comply and removed most of the merchandise. Etsy will also be removing the rest of the items soon.
Trademarks protect both celebrities and companies from having their brand defiled. These patents stretch from strange requests such as naming a child after a hazelnut spread to normal requests such as trade marking a hashtag associated with a brand name. The Feyoncé merchandise included mugs that quoted the song “Single Ladies”, by putting the lines “he put a ring on it” on the back.
By Jordan Bonte
The Urban Daily
Atlanta Business Chronicle
Trademarks and Brands Online
Main Photo Courtesy of Francine Clouden – Flickr License
Feature Photo Courtesy of George – Flickr License