'Geek Power': Best Buy Sends C&D To Newegg Over Marketing Campaign

from the oh-come-on dept

Ah, Best Buy. It’s apparently decided to get into the trademark bullying business. The company sent well known online electronics retailer Newegg a cease & desist (shown below) because Newegg is running a marketing campaign called “Geek On” with the “O” in “On” made to look like a “power on” button. Best Buy claims that this is biting off its own Geek Squad logo, which similarly uses a power on button (though, with a tie):

The shirt is Newegg. The callout is Best Buy. And, yes, they look nothing alike. No moron in a hurry is going to be confused here. To make it even more crazy, Best Buy, in true conspiracy theory mode, decides that Newegg is also violating its trademarks because of the following commercial, which pokes fun at Best Buy:

Best Buy takes offense at all this and claims that it’s trademark infringement:

The fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uninformed about computer products, in contrast to your employees who are portrayed as “experts.”

Your misuse of our valuable trademarks and your negative portrayal of our employees violate our trademark rights and misleads consumers about our services, in violation of federal and state law. While we welcome fair competition, we cannot tolerate unfair competition that disparages our employees, confuses customers and damages our valuable trademarks and the goodwill associated with those marks. We take great pride in our employees and the high quality of customer service they offer and find your company’s focus on our employees in this advertising campaign to be particularly offensive.

Of course, there are all sorts of problems with these claims. The logos looking nothing alike, as we’ve already discussed, but the whole thing about the TV ad is just ridiculous. There’s clearly no trademark issue there, as competitors are absolutely allowed to poke fun at each other. No one is going to think that Best Buy “sponsored” the Newegg commercial. There’s no consumer confusion at all. More amusingly, the fact that Best Buy thinks that Newegg is portraying Best Buy employees says a lot about how Best Buy views its own employees.

Of course, as many are pointing out, this whole thing has done the exact opposite of what Best Buy probably wanted. First, it’s driven a ton of attention to Newegg’s commercial, but more importantly, it’s made Newegg supporters — who are generally quite tech savvy — really dislike Best Buy even more than they may have already. Newegg had posted the C&D letter on its Facebook page, and the response are almost universally anti-Best Buy:

Perhaps next time Best Buy will think about the consequences of sending out such a bogus C&D before all of this happens.

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Companies: best buy, newegg

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Comments on “'Geek Power': Best Buy Sends C&D To Newegg Over Marketing Campaign”

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48 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Ahahaha, the commercial never once said it was supposed to represent Best Buy, but now everyone is going to associate it with them since Best Buy obviously thinks it could only be them and who is going to argue with that? And to top it off they’ve filed such an obviously bogus lawsuit over it.

Way to take a little negative marketing and make it a hundred times worse, Best Buy!

Anonymous Coward says:

(You'd) Best Buy (somewhere else)

“The fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uninformed about computer products, in contrast to your employees who are portrayed as “experts.””

Um, the young man in the commercial was “slovenly”? Really? In what way?

Being uninformed is pretty much the default for BB employees, with as many items as there are in the store finding the guy that actually knows about the thing you are asking about is generally quite difficult.

And the reviews on egghead arent done by the “employees” they are done by the other customers.

crade (profile) says:

Color Greed

lol, I didn’t even notice they both had the work “geek” until you mentioned it. They must have trademarked that word too! All I saw was a generic orange power button on one, and a logo made from a power button and a tie on the other.

Also, cracks me up that they are claiming infringingment because the guy in the video is wearing a blue golf shirt and acting like an idiot. Idiots in blue golf shirts *must* be bestbuy! that is *our* thing, you can’t have that in your video!

Jeni (profile) says:

Re:

Yup. Looks like another monopoly-wanna-be.

I used to love Best Buy but last year while checking out on their web site using my Best Buy credit card (which I’d used A LOT and always paid off quickly) and they wanted me to add yet another credit card #. That’s when I said my good-bye’s to Best Buy.

Haven’t tried NewEgg yet, as we don’t have one but off I go to find their web site. : )

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re:

Best Buy is doing fine. Up until 1998, their stock was always below $10, but has been above $20 ever since, and is now more like $30. They are a long way from death’s door. This isn’t Blockbuster video.

Geeks will always know what they want and seek out online deals and reviews from other tech-savvy communities. But impatient people, and people without a clue will still go to Best Buy to buy stuff. And yes, even to get advice from their clueless sales staff.

Reason being, an “expert” is anyone who the customer perceives to be better informed than they are. For the average geek, a BB rep is an ill-informed, poser douche. For the average American, he is that whiz kid who knows that an Athlon is from AMD and Core is from Intel. Wow! Where did he learn it all?! Which one is better? He’ll make up an answer, and the customer won’t know the difference.

The BB reps, as tech illiterate as they may appear to me, can actually help a customer who is completely clueless. I’ve overheard simple questions like “But can I use a Linksys WiFi card on my Cisco WiFi thingy?” The BB guy will know the answer. Someone on the thread suggested going to BB to videotape how dumb the reps are. Instead, if you really want a laugh, focus the camera on how dumb the customers are.

But you’ll never catch me in there buying anything. I’m an Amazon Prime addict.

PandaMarketer (profile) says:

Blue Shirts

I only shop at WorstBuy if they are the only ones that have something a customer needs immediately. And, only if CompUSA doesn’t have it.I hate their email policy too. (BB)

If it’s for me, I wait for NewEgg’s order to come in. Bare drive doesn’t come with a manual or cable (or box)? Excellent, save me some money. I don’t need them.

terrybbarton says:

How about that,

Best buy thinks they own all trademark rights to

1. The common power indicator symbol. (Wow I wished I owned that, the revenue from licensing to PC makers must be big. Idiots)

2. The work “Geek” (I’ll Call them idiots again here.)

3. Clueless computer salesmen in wait for it.. BLUE SHIRTS. (Now I’ll call them dumba_____.)

No wonder I don’t buy from Best Buy anymore.

Bill says:

Re:

I think they JUST opened a will call in CA. Newegg has always been an online store. They ship FAST, though. If you order by early Wednesday, chances are you’ll get it by Friday! Like their motto: Once you know, you Newegg! So true. I found them about 4 years ago and have gotten them so much word of mouth business. You just can’t beat their prices! Their reviews are AWESOME because it’s people like you and I doing the reviews. Just find something you’re looking for and you’ll probably be able to get a better one for the same amount of money you would spend elsewhere. Be sure to hit their mailing list where you get e-mail coupon codes on a daily basis! There’s always memory or CPUs or something on sale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Anyone who truly knows anything about the world of building computers, gamers who custom build thier machines,for one example wold never buy from a place like BB anyways. The real issue here is not copywright, but the fact that there are too many lawyers working for these giant companies. They have nothing better to do than waste time with these stupid claims. It’s like apple suing every company on earth for making touch screen phones. If these companys want to win customers they need to focus more on making their own prodcts and services better, and not trying to make the other companies look worse.

hmm (profile) says:

well

>> It’s like apple suing every company on earth for making touch screen phones

Or suing because apparently Apple owns the entire concept of ’rounded corners’…. ๐Ÿ™‚

First they came for the rounded corners, and I did nothing.
Then they came for the sharp square corners and I did nothing.
Then they came for anything with a surface (which was everything)………

Anonymous IT Geek says:

I will only use BB during Black Friday or if I already know what I want and they actually have the better price. Have been a loyal Newegg customer for a few years now. And thanks to where I live, I have another local option called Frys Electronics where I can get stuff fast and cheap when needed. Now I may not give BB any of my Christmas shopping money any more!

anonymous says:

Come on.

If you honestly didn’t think that they were poking fun at best buy, you are an idiot or have never went into a best buy before. So to all that say I would have never put two and two together, stop lying because you know that is exactly what new egg was doing. Now with that said… I think it is an ingenious ad. A little compettion never hurt anyone. Grow up best buy and take it like the company you are. I am sure in the life span of circut you had to have ran an ad similar to this one.

Tom Landry (profile) says:

The newegg commercial is so accurate that it isn’t even funny. While a department head is *probably* knowledgeable about the products they carry, its the low level “associates” that one comes in contact with 99% of the time.

If your job is to sell goods in your de3partment and your spending 8 hours per day looking at the shit you’d have to actually make a concerted effort NOT to educate yourself on its specifications.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Funny thing that

For all the people whose computers I have worked on, plenty of them have mentioned they went to best buy previously. You know what? Not a single one of them was happy with the service. Not a one.

Also, for years I have used newegg. Always wonderful. The products get here rather quickly and if anything is ever wrong, returning stuff has never been a problem.
Less than three Newegg.

K.E.Mort (profile) says:

Intent is obvious

Sure, they are poking fun at Best Buy. Just like lots of other commercials have done the same to competitors who use something like a blue shirt as part of their image.

Big freakin deal. No basis for a suit unless they really used a BB type logo somewhere which they didn’t on the guy’s shirt etc.

The store actually looks more like the old CompUSA or TigerDirect stores before they changed them around.

The t-shirt thing…yea ok whatever I’ve seen that kind of logo used before in the electronics space. This is just BB trying to scare NewEgg into pulling the spots and the shirts with a threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Commercial was about Best Buy?

I live in Canada, and we don’t have Best Buy up here. This commercial reminds me of every computer/electronics/office store I’ve ever visited (For my fellow Canadians, places like Futureshop and Staples Office Depot should come to mind).

I’ve worked in these type of environments too. The training is terrible, and employees are only given the “pros” of a product in which they want you to convey to the customer. They never tell you the full specs of the products you’re selling.

I remember on several occasions working at staples needing to look on the tag, or even resorting to Googling information because I really didn’t know anything about the product. I guess that’s what happens when you’re given one day of training :/

dwg says:

'Geek Power': Best Buy ...

Doesn’t look like “huge ignorance” to me. Looks right on point. What Gene’s alluding to (if I may) is that there are various ways to infringe a trademark, and while the most obvious is just straight-up using someone else’s mark on your goods or services, another is creating the appearance of sponsorship of the junior user by the senior user, or an affiliation between the junior and senior users. Here, then, by opining that there’s no way any viewer would believe that Best Buy sponsored a commercial that makes it look like a company that employs dumbfucks, Gene raises an important defense to any claim of infringement Best Buy might bring against NewEgg.

Sound good?

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