Honda Sued For Trademark Infringement For Suggesting It Wants To Save The Earth

from the okay,-don't-save-the-earth dept

Be careful suggesting that you want to "save the earth." Automaker Honda just did that in an ad with a guy wearing a "save the earth" t-shirt, and for doing so, it got slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit from the Save the Earth Foundation, which apparently has a trademark on that phrase (and has had it since 1972). The foundation claims that the ad was implying endorsement by the foundation. I wonder if morons in a hurry have any interest in saving the earth.


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  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Here's a plan; why doesn't the Save the Earth foundation endorse what Honda is trying to do, instead of litigating?

    Oh wait, that's the SENSIBLE option.

     

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  2.  
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    Jon Renaut (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Bought vs drew the shirts?

    I assume Honda didn't actually buy t-shirts with the slogan on them, but actually drew them in their video editing program or whatever. Would it make a difference if they had purchased a bunch of shirts and used them in the ads? Would that shift the liability to any t-shirt vendor who used the slogan without a license? Honda probably still has the deepest pockets, though.

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Re: Bought vs drew the shirts?

    "I assume Honda didn't actually buy t-shirts with the slogan on them, but actually drew them in their video editing program or whatever."

    Why would you assume that?

    This is the new world of trademark litigation, where you can shut down anything in which your trademark appears. Documentary film makers have been dealing with this headache for years.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:30am

    How do you find out -

    - how much of the foundations funds go toward saving the earth and how much goes to "expenses"---Neal Pargman's pockets.

     

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  5.  
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    Jon Renaut (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Bought vs drew the shirts?

    Seems like it would be a ton easier. They already have to draw the fade between shirts, why not draw all of it? But I don't know anything about video editing, so I could be totally wrong.

     

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  6.  
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    kevjohn (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    goes the other way too

    When is the Destroy the Earth Foundation going to sue Hummer for trademark infringement?

    I kid, I kid.

     

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  7.  
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    Moron in an Anti-Mike Costume, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:45am

    Yeah, I always associate the auto industry with saving the earth and environmentalism. I mean, isn't it such an obvious connection?

     

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  8.  
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    Johnny Canada, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:50am

    Who heard of 'Save the Earth'

    I never heard of that group, Save the Earth, before this came up.

    Honda should bill them for advertising

     

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  9.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:03am

    They are more concerned..

    about making money than they are about saving the earth. Most of those groups really just want to pad their own pockets.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Isn't all they have to do is add some stupid blurb at the bottom that says this commercial is not an advertisement or endorsement for the "Save the Earth Foundation". All trademarks shown belong to he respective rights holders. There problem solved right?

     

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  11.  
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    taoareyou (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Although something as generic as "save the Earth" as a trademark is inane, why didn't they just say "save the planet"? Or has that been trademarked, too? How about: "save the 3rd generally large object in current orbit around our sun"?

    It's amusing that nobody is allowed to save the Earth now unless they are authorized.

     

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  12.  
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    pferland, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    save 3'rd Rock from The Sun?

     

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  13.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Save the Earth ....
    Use Clean Coal ....

    ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    taoareyou (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re:

    Save the only known celestial body which bears civilizations which prevent us from mentioning any intent to save the home of said civilizations.

     

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  15.  
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    vyvyan, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    you stole words from mah mouth!

     

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  16.  
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    James T Kirk, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 11:37am

    Beam me up, Scotty. There's no intelligent life down here.

     

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  17.  
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    dwind (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 11:55am

    I'm gonna patent
    Beam me up Scotty,
    Tree Huggers,
    trademark litigation, etc.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    No no, first you trademark those terms. Then you write a book about how you trademarked those terms to get a copyright on them. Then you patent the buisness model of getting trademarks to sue and writing tell all books about your legal battles. Tripple whammy.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    Dammit I can't save the Earth because I'm gonna get sued.

     

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  20.  
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    Jeff, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Save the Earth? Forget that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Roehamster, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Kudos, buddy!

     

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  22.  
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    shmengie (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    in protest...

    i hope the earth DOESN'T get saved. that'll show 'em...

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    We should think about it more charitably

    Save the earth is a good and right cause. We should have tolerance and perhaps think a little more charitably in cases like this. Honda is just using the saying to make money, Save the Earth is trying to accomplish something good and noble. We MUST err on the side of good causes not large corporations if this world is to survive.

     

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  24.  
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    interval, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Re:

    Its a loud 'n clear example of what Save the Earth is REALLY all about. Its a pack of wackos who can't make it in a free market, and didn't want to teach.

     

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  25.  
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    interval, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Re: We should think about it more charitably

    Ok, assuming your serious, how does litigating a ridiculous trademark infringement (and its been show many times that these lawsuits aren't even legal in many cases, although this one MAY have some "merit" (it makes me sick to even use the term here) further that "good and noble" cause? Sounds like another money grab to me. Seems like the good and noble thing to do would have been to let Honda alone. The ad might have been seen by millions of people with the guy's t-shirt right square in the middle of it all. Now its just an ugly footnote in legal history and makes Save the Earth look like another greedy corp. Some times the litigator needs to err on the side of good.

     

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  26.  
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    Valkor, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    No video?

    Useless without a link to the commercial.
    That would explain the focus on the shirt in question. Was it totally incidental, or did they say something like "Save the Earth. We do." while pointing to their shirts or an on screen logo.
    Give us the moron in a hurry test!

     

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  27.  
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    John Spielman, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    Re: We should think about it more charitably

    Umm, yeah...Save the Earth Foundation is trying to accomplish something good.
    That's why they're concerned about an ad using the phrase "save the earth"?
    If they gave a crap about saving the earth, they wouldn't give a crap about an ad that suggests people "save the earth."

     

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  28.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bought vs drew the shirts?

    Hrm? I haven't seen the commercial in question. There may be more going on than I assumed. Have a link?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Zee (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 9:51pm

    Geez! Why is everyone is suing everyone these days

    And for Pete's sake...Honda was trying to advertise its Save the Earth business plan. Save the Earth foundation actually gains exposure from it.

    The worst they could do is ask Honda to stop airing the ads.

     

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  30.  
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    known coward, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    As a moron in a hurry.

    I know phrases can be trademarked. But even I do not think honda is in the earth saving business. I would not confuse honda with a foundation dedicated to saving the earth.

    I am sure Honda would be happy to take my money, but they would actually give me something in return.

     

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  31.  
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    terre, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    trademark holders are required to defend it or lose it

    Honda is not as harmful to life on Earth as Monsanto or Chevron, but they are all large corporations that advertise how green they are.

    If Save The Earth Foundation didn't protect their trademark they could lose the right to control the trademark. Consider the reasons Save the Earth might have to protect that trademark:

    First, the legal requirement to take action if another company uses your trademark to promote themselves. It causes confusion, which is one of the basic tenets of trademark law. (Does Save The Earth endorse Honda? Is Honda partnering with Save The Earth to do good?

    Next is monetary value of the trademark. It costs money to get and maintain a trademark, and Save The Earth has had their trademark since 1972. Trademarks gain value over time (Coke's is worth billions). Trademark infringement is basically theft - of intellectual property.

    Trademark holders can license their image. Honda can afford to pay a license fee. My question would be, did they offer to pay a licensing fee and were turned down by Save The Earth (who surely spent more time on the question than you and me). Or did Honda blow off the little environmental organization and not pay a fair licensing fee? Or did the ad agency throw the phrase on there without researching it, and Honda's PR people missed it too?

    Honda is doing a lot to develop fuel-efficient cars. At the same time, someone needs to hold the greenwashing corporations accountable. A trademark on Save The Earth is one way to do that. Check out thegreenlifeonline.org for their a Greenwasher of the Month.

     

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  32.  
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    rlsimmonsjr (profile), Jan 29th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Honda Infringed on Save The Earth

    Of course Save the Earth (STE) foundation sued. It does imply an endorsement by them. It would be seen more clearly if a less attractive and popular company was using their (STE) trademark. For example, if a Japanese dolphin-killing company or a baby-seal hunter group were to advertise using a t-shirt with STE on the actors in the commercial. Automobile ARE one of the main polluters on earth. It is their (STE) right, whether you agree with their decision or not, to choose which products they endorse. It is not a frivolous lawsuit. I'm surprised I keep seeing so many right-wing types on tech sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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