The Colonel vs. Adolf Hitler In A Trademark Extravaganza

from the intellectual-property-reichs dept

We've had dust-ups in the restaurant industry over trademarks before. Whether it was Psy vs. Gangnam Style Restaurant, which turned out to be a nothing, Nutella vs. restaurants promoting their products, or Waffle House vs. rap music, the conflict is there, but I feel like it lacks a certain gravitas. A little of what the French call je ne sais quoi. The closest we've come to anything satisfying was IHOP vs. God, but I'm going to disqualify that one for being outside the mortal coil (side note: Heavenly Coil would be a great name for a punk band or strip club). Fortunately, we've finally got a trademark dispute with some real personalities. Two titans on the world stage that the cameras can do close-ups on as they battle this out.

I'm of course talking about the potential for a legal battle between Colonel Sanders and Adolf Hitler. Some brief background is probably in order. See, apparently there's something of a trend in Thailand for taking well-known cultural icons and changing their images just enough to represent history's most dasterdly megalomaniac. As a result, you'll get teletubbies with Hitler's face on them, or a cute little panda with a toothbrush mustache and a glare that says, "Those bamboo stalks better not be Jewish." And the latest victim of this Hitler-ization is of the KFC spokesman.

Kentucky Fried Chicken told The Huffington Post Friday it may take "legal action" against a fried chicken shop named Hitler that sports a storefront emblem very similar to KFC's, only with Adolf Hitler's head replacing Colonel Sanders.

"We find it extremely distasteful and are considering legal action since it is an infringement of our brand trademark and has nothing to do with us," a spokesman for KFC parent Yum! told The Huffington Post in an email.





Look, I can't blame KFC for being upset that their beloved Colonel Sanders was morphed into Hitler. Adolf Hitler murdered roughly 11 or 12 million people in one of the world's greatest travesties. The Colonel only kills chickens, people. Delicious, succulent, chickens. So if KFC wants to go the trans-oceanic trademark route, it may be hard to blame them, but how much of an effect would it actually have?

As it turns out, a mild-flavored recipe effect at best. In order to avoid criticism of the same kind a couple of years back, the restaurant changed its facade, name, and shop images a bit. Now, instead of being called Hitler's Chicken, the name has reportedly been changed to H-ler, because that's apparently better. Also, it looks as though the Hitler image has been removed. Not that this is erasing anyone's memory, of course. People pass that shop every day and know it was Hitler's Chicken. Nobody ever confused Hitler with Colonel Sanders and nobody ever actually thought less of KFC or their trademark because of the stunt.

You can understand why KFC was upset, but it's hard not to see the futulity in all this. KFC may not have realized at first that the images of a Hitler Colonel were a year or so old, but this can serve as a lesson in how the market and society will usually do all the legal work for you if you give them enough time and spotlights.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    ...does thinking Hitler's Chicken makes an excellent name for a Thai restaurant make me a bad person?

     

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  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Re:

    Apparently it just makes you part of a growing Thai trend.

    ...does thinking Thai Trend makes an excellent name for a Thai pop band make me a bad person?

     

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

  3.  
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    aldestrawk (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 2:57pm

    I was promised two titans battling it out on the legal stage. What is the position of the Adolph Hitler Estate in all this? They weren't even mentioned.

     

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  4.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Estate

    I believe the closest living relatives of Hitler, nephews, live on Long Island in New York and are native born that would be interesting. But somehow I doubt they will do anything.

     

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  5.  
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    mmrtnt (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 3:46pm

    Next Up

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    Well...not really

    "Adolf Hitler murdered roughly 11 or 12 million people in one of the world's greatest travesties."

    I believe that's a grossly inflated number - 6 million is the usual cited number, and even that is rumored to be somewhat falsified.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    And they will serve tea out of teapots that look like...well, that's a tad obvious.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Well...not really

    That only accounts for Jewish people.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Well...not really

    fair enough

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Forgive me if I'm missing something, but does it matter if his name is spelled Adolph or Adolf? I don't often see it written as Adolph.

     

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  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Well...not really

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:24pm

    And, in other trademark news...

    Larry Flynt is suing his brother, Jimmy, for trademark infringement after Jimmy opened a store in Florida called Flynt Sexy Gifts.
    Silly me, I thought Jimmy also has the last name of Flynt!

     

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  13.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    Please feel free not to post Nazi propaganda drivel here....

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re:

    As a native german speaker the ph variant looks pretty retarded to me

    Even though I have to admit that it is possible that the name was spelled that way a long time ago* (and still is in english)

    However that particular Adolf definitely wrote his name with an f

    *before the first spelling reformation germans used different spelling possibilities of their names interchangeably, like Göthe Goethe

     

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  15.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 4:59pm

    Re:

    Er, thanks for pointing that out. I thought I had it right everywhere in the article, but apparently I missed the headline. It's now fixed.

     

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  16.  
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    The Old man in The Sea, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Well...not really

    A few years ago, I did some research into the number of civilians killed during WWII in Europe. This was in response to a close friend (from the Middle East) who doubted that six million Jews had been terminated. He comes from a war-torn country there.

    I was astounded that a lower estimated was around 100 million civilians killed during that war. The upper bound was around 120 million civilians killed. What I hadn't realised was how densely populated Europe was at that time. Compared with the number of military killed - the estimate was under 1 million.

    So six million Jews and 2-3 million Gypsy's are not unreasonable numbers.

    If we have another global conflict which seems inevitable, we will probably see billions of civilians die, with most if not all the politicians surviving.

     

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  17.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 6:24pm

    KFC kills more than chickens. I'm positive if I was to eat it that it would kill me. Walking by one last week just about had me hurling. Must be getting close to their yearly oil change.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 6:24pm

    The Thais may find this amusing not understanding what Hitler was but I am willing to bet if the west did that using Tojo as the replacement they would understand and be horrified,

     

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  19.  
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    aldestrawk (profile), Jul 9th, 2013 @ 9:22pm

    Re: Re:

    My German wife is traveling today and I could not consult with her till now. She says, Adolf is the most common but the Adolph version is not unknown in Germany. The name Adolf lost popularity after WWII. As for Hitler, the F-version (like the F-word) seems to be the appropriate one.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 9:31pm

    All I can think of now is Epic Rap Battles of History.

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 12:01am

    Re: Re: Well...not really

    Add in the Spanish Flu and it was one of the most horrifically deadly centuries in history.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 4:34am

    Re: Re: Well...not really

    100-120M civilians dead, yet everybody talks about all the jews that were killed, which is roughly 5% of the total causalities. And WTF about the rest (95M)? Nothing..

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    Ummm - may be a rather large difference there.
    Ya think?

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    (Soup Nazi)

    No Soup For You !!!

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 5:43am

    Delicious? Succulent? Clearly you never ate there.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re: Well...not really

    That needs to go the other way around. Wars were always about territorial disputes before. They'd put a thin veneer of religion or principle on it, but let's face it, the idea was to grab land or control resources or trade.

    Shame we can't get the politicians to do the warring for us.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    I tire of your anti-first amendment statements you pro-government censorship cronie.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re:

    However that particular Adolf definitely wrote his name with an f

    and let's be careful to not offend such a historical hero.

    Somehow, I don't care if it bothers him that his name gets mis-spelled.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    Because the Jews were enslaved and murdered in a slaughterhouse made just for them, while most of the others died fighting or from disease.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Well...not really

    That 12 million number also generally only refers to the more visible highly organized death camps. Civilians in Nazi occupied territories were routinely rounded up and herded into mass graves. Often this was group punishment for resistance.

    The Nazi's weren't just about the death camps. There was also a lot of lebensraum related atrocities going on too.

    The 12 million number is LOW estimate based on an American centric view of the war.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Rich, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    The US Constitution defines the limits of government. It has nothing do with a forum on The Internet.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Re: Well...not really

    You have to really dig for that 100M number. You have to go looking everywhere beating the bushes for every time some Nazi officer shoved a bunch of villagers into the local church and burned it to the ground.

    On the other hand, the death camps were highly organized ethnic cleansing on an industrial scale. Furthermore, the Germans were really proud of it so they made their own home movies. The Nazi's themselves helped increase the visibility of what they were doing.

    Bulldozers pushing a bunch of emaciated bodies into a mass gave makes a big impression. So does a liberated death camp.

    Also, a lot of the abuses that are part of that bigger number happened behind the iron curtain. Americans and the rest of NATO during the cold war weren't going to highlight what the Nazis did to the Russians.

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Well...not really

    I was going to mention the Russian thing too. The fact that the nastiest part of the war happened in the Soviet Union was never mentioned when I was in school, and Hollywood certainly wasn't making any movies about it. John Wayne didn't fight the Nazis to help out a bunch of evil communists.

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 10th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    When did I say anything about censoring you? Also, pro-government censorship. Even your notoriously lacking in humor fuhrer would laugh at that....

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    Please feel free to keep your head in the sand...or up whatever orifice it's stuck.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jul 11th, 2013 @ 1:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well...not really

    How being shot in your home/on the street by nazi soldiers is anyhow less tragic than being shot in a concentration camp. Being gassed is equally lethal in a shower and on the streets.

    It's annoying because I see it more and more often abused, used as justification for compensation etc.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    hopponit, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 11:29pm

    kfc

    Oh no dude ya' got it wrong. That isn't the Col. That's Dave Thomas. Wrong chain is freaking out over nothing.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Hitler vs the Colonel. my Money's on the C!

     

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

  39.  
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    terry_allen (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 4:00am

    Re:

    You've eaten at a KFC in Thailand? Yum Foods seems to be okay with letting the franchisees there serve their own variants.

    As long as I stayed away from the standard offerings (which I admit I didn't try at all), I thought the food was pretty good in such places. Better than you'd find, say, in a food court in the U.S.

     

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

  40.  
    icon
    terry_allen (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 4:21am

    Re:

    Umm...not the Thais, probably. The Japanese were so pathetically eager to leave one country unconquered (so they could have their own 'coalition of the willing') that they left Thailand almost alone -- after brokering a peace treaty between the French and the Thais and securing the right to move troops across Thailand to attack Malaya. Meanwhile the Japanese ambassador to Thailand had the pleasure of watching the OSS operate right under the collectives nose of the Thai royal family....

    Anyway, I would mention that this thread is getting way too far from the original point, but I understand that the Hitler restaurant in question closed for good quite a while ago, and KFC is now in the awkward position of threatening to sue a picture on the Internet -- the only legacy of the Hitler restaurant -- because some Guardian journalists couldn't be bothered to fact-check the original story.

     

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


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