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:

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:

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Companies: best buy

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

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Danny says:

Re: 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.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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….

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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…

spencermatthewp says:

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.

Trerro says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

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