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.

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Companies: yum brands

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Comments on “The Colonel vs. Adolf Hitler In A Trademark Extravaganza”

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Re: Re: 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.

The Old man in The Sea says:

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.


Re: Re: 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.

Pragmatic says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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 G?the Goethe

terry_allen (profile) says:

Re: 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.

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