[quote=“Mother Theresa”]Actually, while I agree it’s a funny case and it makes the Pork Board look silly, it’s not so absurd that they hired expensive lawyers to fire off the letter. Brands, slogans, trademarks, and so forth are immensely valuable. According to this list, the CocaCola brand is worth $68 billion, the IBM brand is worth $60 billion, etc.
“The other white meat” isn’t the name of a company, but it is a slogan that the Pork Board has invested many millions of dollars in, marketing it, grooming it, cultivating it, using it to try to convince people pork is healthy, so they should buy it. They’ve spent a lot on that slogan and it has great value to them.
When some geek comes along and says “Unicorn meat, the other white meat,” it’s not “trademark infringement” (despite the lawyers’ claim) because it’s highly unlikely anyone would be confused into thinking unicorn meat is actually pork meat, or they came from the same source. But it definitely could be “dilution”, the legal doctrine where someone uses another’s protected mark in an unsavory manner so as to tarnish the mark or simply in such a way that it loses some of its unique and finely-cultivated value. It’s been a while since I’ve read up on the doctrine, but I think there’s an arguable case of the latter here.
The first type of “dilution” is when someone sells red t-shirts with a big golden arches M and the slogan “McShit” or someone makes a porn movie in which a stud in a pink bunny suit is beating a bass drum while fucking endlessly and words roll across the screen saying “He just keeps going and going and going” (of course it should say coming, not going, but that’s another matter). In such cases, McDonalds and Everready might object that their valuable protected brands are being imitated, mocked and harmed. Yea, I know, whatever happened to free speech, but. . . . that’s the law of dilution.
The second type of dilution doesn’t require an unsavory connection. It only requires that someone is using the mark in such a way that people clearly make a connection with the original use of the mark and such unauthorized secondary use, takes away (dilutes) some of that finely cultivated value of the mark, cheapening it.
Yes, whenever the owner of copyright or a protected slogan or mark objects in a case like this they always look stupid, but with all those millions invested, they’re right to at least consider whether the unauthorized activity could potentially diminish the value of their asset.
EDIT: a picture’s worth a thousand words.
Here’s the first type of dilution.
Here’s the second type (fake adidas). You might not think they’re really adidas, but it diminishes the value of adidas’ trademarked three black stripes on a sneaker.
MT’s spot on here, the attorneys even cite “dilution” in their letter.
I’m a little surprised at the OP’s naiive response to this.
Seriously, Counsel, if I were your client, and I’d secured the IP rights to that slogan, and I stumbled across the item on the Internet, I’d sure want to know what you were going to do about it, joke or not.
Which may in fact, be the way this played out in real life, who’s to say?