Arsenal, The UK Football Club, Sues Arsenal Cider House, The Pittsburgh Bar, Because Of Course It Would

from the up-your-arsenal dept

Exactly how far can overly protective trademark owners go before the wider public wakes up to what a shitstorm trademark has become? It’s a question I find myself asking often, given the type of stories we cover around here. It seems any progress made on that front is slow, however, and the ridiculous stories keep on rolling in. You may recall that the Premier League, the UK’s famous soccer/football/whatever league, has already proven itself incapable of making any kind of sense while enforcing its intellectual property rights. Well, perhaps taking its cue from its parent league, the also-famous Arsenal soccer club is reaching across the pond to try to block a trademark application for a small bar in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

When Arsenal Cider House filed for a trademark application, lawyers with the football club tried to stop them.

“I really don’t understand it completely. I know that they don’t have their name on alcohol that I know of, that I can find on the internet, but somehow they’ve justified opposing our trademark,” said Arsenal Cider House owner Bill Larkin.

Reviewing the myriad of iconography for Arsenal compared with what few images I found for Arsenal Cider House, any similarities between the branding appear to be minimal at most. They share the name, and Arsenal Cider House has a cannon in some of its branding, as does the soccer club. Other than that, everything else appears to be different: the colors, the logos, the fonts. Which means this appears to be all about the “Arsenal” name.

As Larkin notes, the soccer club doesn’t appear to be involved in the liquor business, so it’s not clear how the trademarks would either compete with one another or cause any customer confusion. For the latter, add to it that one entity is a massively well-known sporting team and the other is a local drinking spot and it’s pretty clear there should be no confusion between the two. It’s not like Arsenal Cider House was named after the team, either.

Larkin says he came up with the name because he was originally located across the street from Arsenal Park.

Yet, here is another small business owner forced to deal with a trademark opposition from a company an ocean away all the same.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: arsenal, arsenal cider house

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Comments on “Arsenal, The UK Football Club, Sues Arsenal Cider House, The Pittsburgh Bar, Because Of Course It Would”

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PaulT (profile) says:

“Yet, here is another small business owner forced to deal with a trademark opposition from a company an ocean away all the same.”

…based on a noun commonly found in any dictionary and originally applied to something that has nothing to do with football.

I think that last part’s worth stressing. These things are silly anyway, but they reach a whole new level when the name wasn’t something they created in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

IP Lawyers in pursuit of OPM -- Other People's Money

Let’s lay the blame exactly where it belongs. It is the legal profession advising business owners to over-estimate the risk of not defending their brand. Not coincidently, it is the legal profession that profits when business owners hire them to address this ridiculous supposed threat.

And yes, one would think that bright, successful people running profitable businesses would be less gullible, but no; they have been told by their lawyers to worry, so worry they must. Worry that someone, somewhere might possibly be making some money that they themselves could have had, if only they had been more vigilant in protecting their “intellectual property”. It makes you want to say “Hello? Don’t you realize you’re being played? The only people taking money that you could have kept in your own pocket is these worthless lawyers.”

Rob says:

Football clubs sell advertising

Arsenal may not curently have any link to cider, however sponsership is a major source of revenue for football clubs in England. At least one premier league club is curently sponsered by a alcohol company so Arsenal may be trying to make sure that it does not look like the Arsenal Cider House is sponsering them however far fetched that may seam.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Football clubs sell advertising

“…however sponsership is a major source of revenue for football clubs in England…”
whoop-dee-fucking-doo, the purpose of trademark isn’t to provide a bludgeon to enforce YOUR OWN idea of how some fictitious legal entity MIGHT, MAYBE AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, decide it wants to sponsor a hard cider or whatever…
you are not (supposed to) camp out on a singular term, name, color, font, whatever, and have ANY and ALL MADE-UP RIGHTS to prevent anyone from daring to whisper that for for-fucking-ever in ANY other context…

JD says:

Sue Arsenal for infringement

If merely being an organization that uses the name “Arsenal” is grounds for a trademark claim, and the point of trademark is to prevent confusion, I think there’s only one solution that makes sense: Arsenal Park, Pittsburgh, should sue Arsenal FC.

After all, Arsenal FC’s brand is recreation on a large field, which is the very definition of a park. And while Arsenal FC was founded in 1886, the Pittsburgh Arsenal was set aside as an actual arsenal in 1814.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Sue Arsenal for infringement

Arsenal FC used to be Royal Arsenal FC from 1886 to 1893, and Woolwich Arsenal FC until 1914, named after the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich that the original players were based at. The Royal Arsenal was in continuous use as some sort of ordnance base and arsenal since the late 17th Century right up until 1994.

Just sayin’…

timmaguire42 (profile) says:

90% of Trademark law is bollocks

Trademark differs from Copyright and Patent in that Copyright and Patent protect new things, whereas Trademark takes already existing things out of the public domain and hands them over to private entities. In theory, the public is compensated through economic gains from business advantage, but all too often, specific applications have no public benefit.

Strong protection should be reserved for Trademarks that truly are new–invented words that have meaning in the public mind solely through the efforts of the company using the word. But the Arsenal Football Club did not invent the word arsenal. They did not popularize the word arsenal. Closer to the truth to say that they are free-riding on a word popularized through great military effort and public expense.

I don’t see any justification for giving them any rights at all to the word except as explicitly referring to a soccer team somewhere in England.

Anonymous Coward says:

Trademarks should be given and it should be made clear
That it only applys to the business you are in
eg arsenal is in the business of sport ,english soccer
they also sell sporting goods and merchandise with
the arsenal colours and logo .
Apple computer does not go after shops that sell
apples .or have signs apples for sale 3 for a dollar.
Epecially where the word is already in use and was not
invented by the trademark holder .
Soccer is not that popular in the usa ,no one is gonna to a usa pub and think its owned by an english
soccer team.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: The similarities in logos is stark

The similarities are that they both chose to use a generic looking, but rather different, picture of a cannon in their logo. This is a no-brainer choice relating to the actual meaning of the word arsenal, and the logos bear no similarity other than this generic design choice. There’s no danger of customer confusion, and no indication that any similarities were deliberate.

So, yeah, I get it still being a cash grab or overreach by a large company trying to control everything.

mmmwright (profile) says:

Arsenal is owned by an American

As of 1 July 2011, the majority shareholder in the club is the American Stan Kroenke, who holds 66.64% of the parent company. His rival, the Russian-Uzbek Alisher Usmanov, owns 29.11%. Under Takeover Panel rules, Kroenke must in due course make an offer for every available share in the club.


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