Best Buy Threatens Priest Over His God Squad Parody; How Does God Feel About Trademark Law?

from the god-vs.-the-moron-in-a-hurry dept

Whoo boy. Apparently Best Buy, owners of the "Geek Squad" brand has prodded God by sending a cease-and-desist letter to a priest who has set up a "God Squad" car that does, in fact, look remarkably similar to the infamous Geek Squad VW Beetles:
godsvsgeeks
Obviously, the God Squad logo -- including the use on the same sort of car -- was used to build off of the brand reputation (which, um, isn't that good) of the Geek Squad. The priest could argue parody fair use, but it doesn't seem that the effort is commentary on the Geek Squad so much as it's just designed to get attention. It's worth noting, of course, that there are other "God Squads" out there as well, including a long running TV show, so at the very least, it does look like Best Buy has focused on this case due to the more direct similarities beyond the name.

Still, it does make you wonder if there's any actual likelihood of confusion. While this may get some attention, is anyone actually going to think that the priest is somehow associated with Best Buy? Does Best Buy's trademark even cover religious services (beyond the ever popular religious debates on operating systems?). In a legal battle between God and a moron in a hurry, who wins? And, most importantly, does it even make sense to antagonize someone obviously doing something like this for the fun of it? I recognize the traditional trademark lawyer response that a company "has to protect its trademarks," but that always ignores that there are other, much more friendly options.

In the meantime, if we're talking about God and intellectual property, it seems worth re-running the Mimi & Eunice cartoon on the topic:


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Silly question...

    "In a legal battle between God and a moron in a hurry, who wins?"

    The only two possible correct answers to this question are Chuck Norris and Mike Ditka, depending on which part of the country you're in....

     

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  2.  
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    Nick Burns (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Hey! I submitted that story! What no props!? You owe me retribution! ;-)

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    I wonder if the GodSquad guys were dressed like the Blues Brothers...

     

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  4.  
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    jedipunk (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    I don't think the issue is that they used "God Squad" but that they commandeered the logo along with it.

    So, an idiot in a hurry could easily misinterpret the logo. That fact that it is on a beetle makes it even more likely.

    Related link.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re:

    O teh lols.

    Attribution!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re: Silly question...

    I would point out how stupid it is to imply chuck norris is a moron of any kind, but by now you would have already been kicked so hard that you traveled back in time.

     

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  7.  
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    Shawn (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    You might be able to persuade me if the 'God Squad' was involved in commerce that would likely be confused with Geek Squads

     

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  8.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    Agreed. Usually, the cases here point out things that are pretty opposite. But I think that this one is close enough to make a case about.

     

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  9.  
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    mjb5406 (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:16am

    Not the First

    Does this mean Best Buy should be sued by the creators of The Mod Squad? Certainly, "God Squad" sounds far closer to "Mod Squad" than to "Geek Squad".

    Guess sales at Best Buy must be on the decline since they now resort to ridiculous lawsuits.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    The real question is, which one is more likely to successfully fix your computer?

     

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  11.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Silly question...

    I think you got that backwards. In the battle between God and a moron in a hurry, Chuck Norris was not in a hurry.

     

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  12.  
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    Danny, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Silly question...

    DH didn't imply that Norris is a moron. DH is just saying that in a God vs moron fight Norris would win. Norris is neither moron nor God (hell calling Norris God would be a downgrade).

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Using the car and the logo font type is really damning in this instance.

    It could very well be that Best Buy doesn't want to be associated with a religious group? I don't know... they don't seem to have scruples about associating with anti gay legislators! Maybe God should have made some favorable commandments for large blue retail industry...

     

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  14.  
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    spencermatthewp, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    God and "Creativity"

    I read an article about this where the guy stated that he came up with the "God Squad" idea as a way to "creatively" spread the word. I can't stand that. It's odd but as a Christian I'm deeply offended, and frankly pissed off, by that answer.

    The "church" has been doing this for a long time. Grabbing something some one else created, spinning it slightly to use for evangelism, and calling it creative. There's nothing creative about it, it's a blatant rip off.

    Sure you can argue fair use till you're blue in the face, but the fact remains there is nothing creative here. Coming up with an original idea is not easy. But to rip an idea off, and call it "creative" is not only stealing, it's a lie as well.

    I'm all for fair use and openness, but in a way, I hope Best Buy sues this guy into oblivion. Maybe it would cause other people in the "church" to pause for a moment and come up with an original thought rather than simply ripping someone else off.

     

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  15.  
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    Danny, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:37am

    Re:

    At face value I'll agree that you have a point about the logo. The God Squad logo looks damn near identical to the Geek Squad log (in fact the only difference I can see is that God and Geek are in different fonts).

    But at the same time if you don't know the difference between who to call for technical support and who to call for spiritual guidance then you are the new definition of fail. Not just an epic fail I mean if I met someone who made this mistake I would personally take their picture and sumit it to Urban Dictionary under the heading fail, if it were possible. (But I think we all agree that its better that Urban Dictionary does not do photo submittions.)

    If I were God Squad I would just change the design of the logo and call it a day.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re:

    Humm... the priest makes his money selling god to people.
    A lot of people (especially morons in a hurry) think computers are magic.

    so yeah, I can see some confusion between the two.

    yeah... god is free, but the middlemen (priests) need paid!

     

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  17.  
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    Michael, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:43am

    Re:

    Absolutely, a moron could confuse the two. And the result might be accidentally purchasing religious advice when your computer is broken?

    There is a reason that trademarks are specific to an industry - you cannot really confusingly purchase something from the wrong company if they do not sell the same thing.

    I suppose, you could argue, that lots of people pray that their computer will work again, but I think BestBuy may have trouble making that stick.

     

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  18.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:43am

    Re:

    Maybe the Smothers Brothers? =]

     

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  19.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re:

    Most, if not all, religion is commerce. How do you think they build those ginorous buildings?

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Silly question...

    Thanks. I thought that the punchline of the joke was fairly obvious. Here's the key point that everyone is missing, however: While Chuck Norris might be the one actually doing the physical winning, Mike Ditka is the one calling the plays....

     

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  21.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re:

    "If I were God Squad I would just change the design of the logo and call it a day."

    Nah, a Jihad/Crusade is a better course of action....

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Re:

    Many of us WISH that computer-fixers were regarded as gods...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Declare a holy war on Best Buy?

    Well its not like the Knights of the Templar have been up to anything special for the last 900 years...

     

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

  24.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Well its not like the Knights of the Templar have been up to anything special for the last 900 years..."

    Depends on what you want to believe. Just because you haven't heard about them doesn't mean they and/or their descendents haven't been active. Let's not forget that they're basically the fathers of modern banking....

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Not the First

    Okay, the "request" is that they change their logo so that it doesn't resemble the one used by Geek Squad.

    I'll suggest that the new logo include a silhouette of a guy with an afro...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: God and "Creativity"

    It's also often a slam on whatever they're taking the idea from.

     

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  27.  
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    Wifezilla, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    Your computer wouldn't dare act up if it knew Chuck Norris or Mike Ditka were providing the tech support.

     

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  28.  
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    Trerro, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Lame... but pretty sure it's still parody.

    IANAL, but as much as I hate the kind of jackasses who run megachurches and preach humility while convincing people to hand over their money so they can live it up, I do think this qualifies as parody. It's clearly a play on the idea of calling a "squad" for support, and I highly doubt anyone would think the brands are connected by anything other than their desire to scam money out of people.

     

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  29.  
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    Brian (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I thought god did it for them

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    n, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Is anyone surprised at religion's "theft-of-culture"? They've been at it for thousands of years... e.g. x-mas and easter.

     

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  31.  
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    Wolfy, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Are you seriously asking about a moron vs. a figment of humanity's imagination?

     

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  32.  
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    Dementia (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    I'll fight you for the attribution as I sent it in too.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    True...

    If that's the case then Best Buy better be careful becuase from what I understand the Templar are no f'n joke when comes to dealing with the enemies of God.

     

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  34.  
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    Dementia (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    Here's a link to a picture of the car. While it does sport the very similar logo, the paint job is NOT the black and white paint job of the geek squad vehicles and several law enforcement agencies. Instead, its just a black beetle.

     

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  35.  
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    Dementia (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re:

     

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

  36.  
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    Danny (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Or as I like to call them: corporate secular humanists

    I doubt the Best Buy marketing people are not nearly as amused as I am that their lawyers have outed the company as being "anti-God".

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    No Wonder Best Buy prices are so high...

    So, this is all over just 1 car? This is not a vehicle issued by the Catholic church, this is one car that a few priests use for their personal use. Best Buy finds it worthwhile to invest possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyers and negative publicity to bring down one priest for his custom paint job that parodies the Geek Squad? Open up an issue of Mad Magazine. They parodied thousands and thousands of logos over the years, and not to mention that it is for profit as well.

    As far as confusion goes, is anyone going to call up the church to fix up their computer? Is anyone going to call Best Buy to have their sins absolved? You can have your opinion on whether or not you like the church using parodies to gain attention from pop culture, but I don't see a legal issue with it at all. It just sounds like Best Buy is wasting even more money to keep their prices obnoxiously high.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 4:36pm

    Re: God and "Creativity"

    That's pretty much how a lot of Christian holidays came about, too, so not really that odd. They've been doing it for centuries.

     

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  39.  
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    known coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 5:03pm

    Best Buy the company of . . . .

    SATAN ?!

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Obviously, you people have never heard of "Plug and Pray".

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 6:13pm

    So you agree that it's not unreasonable to ask the church to stop, you just think it should be "much more friendly." But Best Buy's spokesman said there were "unfortunate similarities between their logo and ours." And the article says:

    "[Best Buy's spokesperson] said Best Buy is working with Strand to alter the God Squad logo in a way that it will still work for him without infringing on the Geek Squad trademark.

    "'We're confident that together we'll come up with a good (dare we say heavenly?) solution for everyone,' she said."

    Where are you getting that there was anything aggressive or unfriendly at all in the letter?

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 7:28pm

    "It's worth noting, of course, that there are other "God Squads" out there as well, including a long running TV show"

    If any of them were around before the Geek Squad they should sue Geek Squad.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Rooker, Aug 21st, 2010 @ 7:00pm

    There's actually a lot of Christian groups out there selling merchandise (t-shirts, posters, etc) that blatantly rips off commercial logos such as Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, Intel, etc. They're misusing the popularity of the brand or logo and betting that no company will have the stones to sue a Church group. It's pathetic what they're doing.

     

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


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