'Honey Badger' Narrator Sues Greeting Card Company For Selling Products Featuring An Apathetic Honey Badger

from the and-a-huge-number-of-shits-were-given-that-day dept

Honey badger may not care, but “comedic narrator” Christopher Gordon certainly does. The voice behind viral “Honey Badger Don’t Care” video is suing (yet another) entity, alleging that Papyrus Recycled Greeting, Inc. infringed on his trademarks with its line of honey badger greeting cards.

Sarah Jeong has more details at Motherboard, including that a) the “rip off” cards aren’t very amusing…

The allegedly infringing greeting cards—apparently manufactured under Papyrus’s “Recycled Greetings” brand—are invariably formulaic and deeply, deeply unfunny.

“It’s Your Birthday!” a honey badger appears to say. Within, the heartbreaking revelation that Honey Badger don’t give a shit.

and that b) the allegedly infringing phrase only appears in the video once and isn’t among the trademarks Gordon has registered.

Here’s the thing: when Randall’s video blew up all those years ago, he went ahead and did register some trademarks, which he used to sell shirts, mugs, toys, and game apps. But he only registered HONEY BADGER DON’T CARE, not HONEY BADGER DON’T GIVE A SHIT, which now makes his case a bit weaker.

You can probably chalk up the lack of a “HONEY BADGER DON’T GIVE A SHIT” trademark to the Patent and Trademark Office’s general resistance to all things sweary. Gordon either didn’t think to register this phrase or knew it would be futile. Even if he had attempted registration, it’s likely it would not have received protection, meaning Gordon — along with anyone else similarly motivated — could use the “SHIT” variation without trampling on each other’s trademarks.

That hasn’t stopped Gordon from pursuing this lawsuit, even though the defendant isn’t using the trademarked phrase or anything else of Gordon’s other than his general portrayal of honey badgers and their give-a-shitness.

But the most likely reason this lawsuit exists is because IP law tends to encourage speculative litigation. Trolls of all varieties (trademark, copyright, patent) have long capitalized on the low barrier to entry (a relatively low filing fee) and the sky-high potential costs of defending against a lawsuit (limited only to the defendant’s imagination) to extract settlements from all and sundry. This “comedic narrator” is no different, as Jeong points out via a PACER screencap.

Considering its a pretty standard (and pretty baseless) trademark infringement lawsuit, you might be wondering why the filing is 114 pages long. Well, it appears Gordon has implemented the Zarrelli Complaint Collation Technique™ , which involves printing out screenshot after screenshot of anything that might conceivably be considered relevant… and then adding several that aren’t. In Gordon’s case, this means printing out what appears to be his entire website and submitting it as an exhibit.

Will Gordon succeed? It’s tough to say. Taken on its merits, the lawsuit seems unlikely to be resolved in his favor. However, if he has more disposable income available or just an insane amount of persistence, he could outlast his opponent and obtain the settlement he would obviously prefer to an injunction. Unfortunately, if Gordon’s looking for a quick settlement, the arrival of a motion to dismiss by the defendant isn’t a welcome development.

One thing is certain, though: IP law has a lot to answer for. Jeong sums it all up in this pithy paragraph.

This is what you do now, I guess. Make one joke that resonates with the internet, trademark it, and then find a lawyer. Money Badger don’t give a shit?

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Comments on “'Honey Badger' Narrator Sues Greeting Card Company For Selling Products Featuring An Apathetic Honey Badger”

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M. Alan Thomas II (profile) says:

Does anyone know if any of the other suits were valid? A lot of them seem to be against t-shirt companies, and I can see that being a lot more likely. Not just because they’re a likely place for a meme, but because I’ve seen plenty of t-shirt companies with rapidly-rotating stock that strikes me as dubiously licensed (but gone too fast for most people to notice). But I want to know if I’m being overly-cynical here.

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