Tootsie Roll Suing Footzyrolls Over Trademark

from the sweet-feet? dept

Trademark is one of the few intellectual property laws left that I think generally serves its original purpose. For the uninitiated, trademark was originally created to avoid customer confusion over branding, thus keeping the buyer from deceit and harm at the vicious hands of fake goods. And, while trademarks can be abused, such as when Nintendo trademarked a phrase it didn't coin for publicity purposes, their existence hovers on the border of benign.

Enter Tootsie Roll, the popular candy product that made a name for itself by being thrown at you in every holiday parade you ever attended. They've decided to take bold action against two ladies selling shoes, which they cleverly named Footzyrolls. Via CNN:
"According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Illinois, Rollashoe, which makes rollable ballet slippers called Footzyrolls, is infringing on the brand name of Chicago-based Tootsie Roll. Tootsie Roll, which made $521 million in sales last year, alleged that the $2 million Footzyrolls brand will confuse and "deceive" consumers into thinking that the shoes are associated with Tootsie Roll's portfolio of products."
Now, in fairness to Tootsie Roll, I can't tell you how many times I went searching in my house for a tasty treat and ended up gnawing on my shoes. Wait...no, that was the dog, who I happen to have named "Moron In A Hurry". Actually, I'm having trouble wondering how either of these companies is in each other's industry stratosphere. Footzyrolls are ballet slippers and a quick perusal of the Tootsie Roll site offers nothing in the way of footwear. And really, who outside of the New York Jets coaching staff is going to think feet are a sweet treat to be munched upon?

In all, this smacks of a legal department with a tad too much time on its hands, particularly with Tootsie Roll requesting "damages" be paid by the startup footwear company. Rollashoe is fighting back, though the company's lawyer notes the collateral damage:
"'Tootsie Roll is flexing its muscle. This case could now proceed for another year. It will cost the Caplans a lot of money. It could kill their business,' he said."
And thank God for that, for what a pitiful sight it would make to walk down the street and see morons hurrying everywhere, chewing not on the chocolate goodness that is a Tootsie Roll, but on the soles of their sneakers instead.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    WDS (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    The final Straw

    Tootsie Roll was going to let it slide until they heard of the plans by Footzie Roll to offer the new Footzie Roll Pop which was a pair of the slippers covered by a hard candy shell.

    (Please do not ask for my sources on this Hot News item)

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    The paragraph beginning

    Now, in fairness to Tootsie Roll..

    is one of the finest ever on this site.

     

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

  3.  
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    Frankenskid (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    So now....

    ...I guess we get to start calling them the tootsie troll company.....

    Really didn't someone at the branding department need to be talked to about this first.... LOL

     

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  4.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    And really, who outside of the New York Jets coaching staff is going to think feet are a sweet treat to be munched upon?

    Possibly Quentin Tarantino.

    Perhaps not munched on, but certainly lovingly photographed.

     

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  5.  
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    TEA-Time, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Great... I just so happen to be wearing a shirt today that has an actual sized Tootsie Roll print repeated in a very dense pattern.

    I suddenly feel dirty.

     

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  6.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Name from Tootsie Rolls, and I bet shoes from China...

    But I couldn't find the source, so it's just a bet.

    However, based on what I did find, I'll root for Tootsie Rolls, as the name is just TOO similar, deliberately so.

    Googling for Footzyrolls, click on the site took me to (because I don't allow javascript):
    http://www.myadserver122.com/122.php?id=14856
    And you people say that Google serves ME, huh? Nope, they're trying to SELL me.

    Anyway, SO I had to copy / paste:
    http://www.footzyrolls.com/

    Trying to find where they're made look at FAQ:
    http://www.footzyrolls.com/faq.html
    About all I found was: "we recommend that you stay clear of sharp objects."
    Yeah. They're just minimal pieces of plastic.

    Back to main page, where I note that most are $35 and even ORDINARY looking flip-flops are TWENTY BUCKS a pair!

    First thing to be done to start in business or lawyering is to get rid of your conscience. -- Mike you should consider THAT to be your missing "Step2", it's THE crucial step.

    (PS: yes, I see Mike didn't write this. Or so the byline indicates.)

     

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

  7.  
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    Atkray (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    Makes me want to get a dog just to name it Moron in a Hurry.

    Oh wait that would be stealing your idea, nvm.

     

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

  8.  
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    ArkieGuy (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    Confused much?

    Only someone with their foot regularly in their mouth or EASILY confused would be "confused or deceived" by such an obvious attempt at theft of IP.

    /sarcasm

     

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

  9.  
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    athe, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Confused much?

    Sorry, but how is anything you just wrote there relevant?

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    athe, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: Confused much?

    Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to OOTB, not AG.

     

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

  11.  
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    william (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    Okay, everyone googles everything these days right? (or maybe not) but here is my suggestion.

    From now on, if you type into Google brand A, and Google didn't tell you either
    1) You type it wrong, maybe you meant brand B
    2) Google Ad for Brand B didn't show up as suggestion,
    Then your claim for trademark and customer confusion will be automatically dismissed.

    In this case, if you type in Footzyrolls in google search, and google didn't say, "Showing results for Tootsie Roll. Search instead for Footzrolls" or the first 5 results didn't show Tootsie roll or ads for Tootsie roll, case dismissed!

    Reasoning is simple, if a search engine with an optimized algorithm and a gazillion of search precedences can't associate those two together, then it means no one has ever made that association between the two. Thus you have no case.

    Think of all the time and money we can save for the courts!

     

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

  12.  
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    ChairmanH, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    As the CNN story cited in the post makes clear, Tootsie Roll is bringing a dilution claim (presumably in addition to a likelihood-of-confusion claim). Dilution claims require no showing of confusion . . . at all. I assume this fact was omitted so that the author could write a bunch of misguided jokes about confused people chewing on shoes.

     

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

  13.  
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    TheStupidOne, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re:

    "jokes about confused people chewing on shoes" are fun to read

     

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

  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Confused much?

    Who knows? Half of the time, I have no clue what ootb is going on about, except that Mike sucks.

     

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

  15.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Confused much?

    OOTB needs a good, old-fashioned pimp-slapping, given that he's such the attention whore. Personally, I'd use a car antenna. Gets their attention fast, and keeps it. Works every time, too!

     

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

  16.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 5:22pm

    I guess my first question is, "Do people still eat that shit?"

    I mean, when you get right down to it, a tootsie roll looks like a cat turd, and probably has a similar flavor profile. Plus, it keep legions of dentists in business replacing the crowns they pull out. Do you think there's some money changing hands here?

     

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  17.  
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    Tom, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 2:59am

    Re: Name from Tootsie Rolls, and I bet shoes from China...

    I would guess they are called Footsie rolls because they are based on the ballet shoe. Ballet shoes used by dancers are kept rolled up to keep them soft and subtle.
    So, maybe you should be claiming its copyright infringement of a dance shoe not a sweet.

     

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

  18.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 4:00am

    Re: Name from Tootsie Rolls, and I bet shoes from China...

    Tootsie Rolls are candy.
    Footzyrolls are shoes.

    I don't see the confusion.

    Trademark laws evolve around the confusion consumers might have when buying a product. For instance if a label/name/colour(sadly) of some product closely resemble the label of another similar product. With the operative word being "SIMILAR".
    How are shoes similar to candy?
    Unless Footzyrolls have indicated they want to start selling candy, Tootsie roll shouldn't have a leg to stand on.

     

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

  19.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 4:03am

    Re:

    Diluting what exactly? The brand value? How would "Footzyroll" be diluting the brand value of "Tootsie roll"?

     

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

  20.  
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    Robert Ring, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 4:22am

    Re:

    Well played, sir. Well played.

     

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

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 6:56am

    I just wrote Tootsie Roll to explain why I will no longer purchase or consume their product. Perhaps more should do the same so that they become more aware of the risks inherent in suing unrelated small businesses.

     

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

  22.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Also

    What about all the people trying to dance while wearing Tootsie Rolls on their feet?

     

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

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Damn. I liked Tootsie Rolls but now they join the boycott list along with Hershey (for moving their plant to Mexico and costing a lot of local jobs where I live).

     

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

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    I think William is on to something here

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

    I will never buy another tootsie roll as long as I live

     

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


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