Hall & Oates Suing Breakfast Company Over Haulin' Oats Granola… And For A Pretty Good Reason
from the under-oats dept
As someone with only a mild and very uneducated interest in music, I am of course a huge fan of the band Hall & Oates. Private eyes, man, they’re watching you, and all that. Hall & Oates, can apparently get very unhappy when things are named after them, as we saw when a bunch of drunken weirdos decided to name a SuperPAC after the band. The band, of course, couldn’t go for that and got them to shut the whole thing down. And, now, according to the Guardian, the famed rocking duo are going one-on-one with the most unlikely foe: granola. Cue outrage about rockers feeling entitled:
Rather than being flattered by the promise of rolled oats and maple syrup mix that, Early Bird insists, is “perfect by itself or as the base for a breakfast parfait creation”, Daryl Hall and John Oates claim “the name and mark Haulin’ Oats is an obvious play upon Plaintiff’s well-known Hall & Oates mark, and was selected by defendant in an effort to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist’s and plaintiff’s well-known marks.”
The pair have brought the case in the Brooklyn federal court, where they claim the food company have infringed their trademark with a “phonetic play on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ well-known brand name”.
Now, if you hadn’t noticed, two bandmates from the 80’s and a freaking granola company probably aren’t in the same industries, aren’t competing with one another, and customers won’t be confused at all into thinking a granola parfait is either Daryl or John, their personalities notwithstanding. So it seems like this should be tossed out, right? Well, maybe not.
Deep within the lawsuit (but not in the Guardian article linked above) is another bizarre tidbit. Apparently, a few years ago, someone else registered a “Haulin’ Oats” trademark and started selling oatmeal with that brand. Rather than freak out and sue, representatives for Daryl and John resolved the whole thing amicably, with the other company agreeing to assign the trademark to the rockers and continue to sell their Haulin’ Oats oatmeal — in exchange for a royalty based on sales. You can see that trademark here. As Hall & Oates note in their lawsuit:
Plaintiff is the owner, via assignment, of the mark HAULIN? OATS that is used in connection with the sale of oatmeal and the provision of food delivery services. Plaintiff is the owner of United States Trademark and Service Mark Reg. No. 4,345,444 for the mark HAULIN? OATS in International Class 30 for oatmeal and in International Class 39 for food delivery, which mark has been in use since March 1, 2012.
And here’s how it all came about:
In 2014, Plaintiff became aware that an entity named Haulin? Oats, a partnership organized under the laws of California and based in Nashville, Tennessee, was also utilizing the mark HAULIN? OATS in connection with the sale of oatmeal and the provision of food delivery services.
Thereafter, Plaintiff and Haulin? Oats entered into a business relationship whereby Haulin? Oats assigned to Plaintiff its trademark and service mark rights in and to the mark HAULIN? OATS (including the United States Trademark and Service Mark Registration identified above) and Plaintiff granted a royalty-based license back to Haulin? Oats.
Based on that, the lawsuit actually makes a lot of sense — though you wouldn’t get any of that from the Guardian’s coverage.
There are some bizarre parts in the lawsuit, such as Hall & Oates arguing that because they once put oats on an album cover there might be confusion: