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.

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

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Adrian Lopez says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

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