Guy Sued Over Trademark On 'Fruit Of The Month Club' Turns Around And Sues Others Over 'Cheese Of The Month Club'

from the wrong-lesson-learned dept

Sometimes people who are sued over highly questionable copyright, patent or trademark laws turn into activists against the abuse of those laws (or against those laws altogether). At other times... the opposite occurs, and they realize that if others can abuse the law to their own benefit, they might as well too. Eric Goldman has the story of a guy, Anshu Pathak, who was sued a few years ago for offering a Fruit of the Month Club, which the company Harry & David claimed infringed on their own trademark. While Pathak fought this, now he's turned around and done pretty much the same thing, suing a bunch of companies, including Harry & David, over his own trademark on "Cheese of the Month Club." Apparently he more or less copied one of the earlier lawsuits. He includes Google, Microsoft and Yahoo in the lawsuit because of keyword ad sales on the term -- an argument that's unlikely to get very far.

Of course, Goldman does a nice job of expressing (with only slightly uncharacteristic exasperation) how silly this whole thing is:
What a load of nonsense. The world would be a better place if we just declared the phrase "[food] of the month club" generic so that no one could claim a trademark in it. Even if the phrase once was descriptive and thus capable of secondary meaning, it has become genericized through overuse. In contrast, so long as we recognize trademark rights in watered-down descriptive terms like "[Food] of the month clubs," we get bogus disputes between companies with crummy trademarks, all of them tearing each other down rather than actually doing a better job for their customers. What a shame.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Heh. That was pretty much my thought when I saw the title of this. ' of the month' has been around for a long, long time. I can't think of ever having connected it to any one company.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 5:53am

    Announcing...

    The Techdirt "Post of the month" club

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    Can't lick them, then join them. What's the big deal? Sounds like Pathak is just dealing with reality.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:09am

    Dumb@$$ of the month:; Anshu Pathak

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    The Fruit of the Loom guys are on the sidelines, sharpening their weapons...

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Shane C (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:40am

    Abuse

    This is an interesting psychological twist on an abuse victim. Children being abused growing up, often (NOT ALWAYS) go on to either be anti-abuse activists, or they go on to abuse their own children.

    In this simile, the guy was abused, so now feels the need to go about abusing others?

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Joe Club, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Eureka!

    I wonder if "Theme of the Month Club" has been Trademarked. I would totally defend my legal rights for the advertising and branding for any club based off of a monthly theme.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Lion XL (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    I see his

    I like his approach, and it may help draw attention to the stupidity of such claims. Pathak may or may not be serious, but it will give this nonsense the exposure it needs and since this is something the general public can understand (most of them should) that 'of the month' is beyond being copyright-able, it very well may help things

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    I'm starting a Time of the Month Club. Who wants to join?

    *crickets*

    Well, screw you then!

    *doorslam*



    *muffled sobbing*

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Re:

    I think half of the human population already has.

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 14th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    "Sounds like Pathak is just dealing with reality."

    Sounds to me like he's doing the exact opposite of dealing with reality. Seems like he's a little delusional to my untrained eye.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Trademark of the Month club: mine now, suckers.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Adrian Lopez, Jan 14th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    I'm reminded of Microsoft's recent objection to Apple's intent to trademark the term "App Store".

    Descriptive terms should never be eligible for trademark protection, secondary meaning or not. If something describes an item or service in such a way that a person seeing it would understand what it's referring to even if the brand did not exist, it shouldn't be subject to trademark protection.

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    AG Wright (profile), Jan 15th, 2011 @ 6:22am

    I can't help but think about the cheese of the month club that my parents were customers of when I was in high school back in the 60's.
    I think that there is a problem with the whole trademark system when this can even be litigated.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    The guy's a freak show.

    He's also a convicted felon.

    Riverside County Superior Court, Case # RIF131496
    Anshu Pathak was convicted of a felony, inflicting serious corporal injury on a child, with enhancements for using a deadly weapon in the commission of the felony. Pathak served one year in jail, commencing 12/07/07, and is on formal probation until 12/12/2012

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This