Canadian Rapper Sends Rap Video Cease & Desist Letter To Coca Cola For 'Jacking' His Catchphrase

from the our-for-a-sip? dept

So we’ve seen some unique and amusing trademark disputes in the past, but this one beats them all. Canadian lawyer Rob Kittredge got to send a rap video cease-and-desist to Coca Cola. Yes, you heard me correctly. A rap video cease and desist. Not a cease and desist letter about a video. The video is the cease and desist letter. Check it out:

And… yes, it appears that Rob is, in fact, the lawyer in the video as well. As background — if you somehow missed it — a few years ago, there was a virally popular rap song and video, by Brendan “B.Rich” Richmond, called Out for a Rip, spoofing Canadian culture/stereotypes. It got over 12 million views, and has become a bit of an anthem.

So, yeah. Coca Cola is using the phrase “out for a rip” on its Coke bottles and Richmond and his lawyer Kittredge decided the best way to respond was to write a song calling out Coca Cola on this and then recording a whole video. At the end of the video there’s an actual letter (part of which is dictated in the song itself) which is also pretty damn amusing:

Dear Coke,

I represent Brendan (B.Rich) Richmond (a.k.a. Friggin’ Buddy). You jacked his catchphrase, but you already know that.

Buddy owns the registered trademark “OUT FOR A RIP” in Canada (TMA934277). The music video for buddy’s original composition “OUT FOR A RIP” has been viewed more than 12 million times. Canadians associate the phrase “OUT FOR A RIP” with him.

Personally, I’m pretty psyched about this once-in-a-career opportunity to send a demand letter in the form of a rap video. Nonetheless, unlicensed use of OUT FOR A RIP violates my client’s rights. From what I understand, you guys do fairly well for yourselves – at least in comparison to most other multinational corporations, the GDP of most countries, or, say, the average musician, right? No room in your budget to clear IP rights?

Contact me no later than August 1, 2017 to discuss settlement of this matter. If you do not wish to discuss settlement, we require that you immediately cease using the OUT FOR A RIP mark, recall all OUT FOR A RIP bottles, and take immediate steps to preserve all relevant evidence in anticipation of possible litigation.

Rob Kittredege

So… yeah. I have no idea if this is a valid trademark claim, though it certainly sounds plausible. The trademark certainly exists, and does cover the phrase on “mugs, coffee mugs, travel mugs, cups, drinking cups and beer steins.” I’ve seen some people complain that “out for a rip” was in common usage going back decades, but in searching for the history of it, the phrase does show up in Urban Dictionary… but entered by “B. Richmond” about a week after the original song was released.

So it certainly seems pretty credible that the public associates the phrase with Brendan Richmond. Either way, I actually think this kind of response is pretty clever, no matter what. Despite being a legal cease and desist, it certainly doesn’t come off as bullying — and actually does a pretty good job of just publicizing Richmond and his music — no matter what happens with Coca Cola. If Coke is smart — and I’m hoping its lawyers are — I would imagine that responding along the lines of what’s suggested in the video would be the best way to settle this situation with everyone coming out of it looking good.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: coca cola

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Canadian Rapper Sends Rap Video Cease & Desist Letter To Coca Cola For 'Jacking' His Catchphrase”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

“I’ve seen some people complain that “out for a rip” was in common usage going back decades….”

It wasn’t in common usage on the Internet, but this was in common usage in the early 80’s. Basically it meant to go out with friends to some secluded spot on Crown land, get high, and get drunk. Sometimes it also referred to gleefully riding drunk through town in the back of a pickup truck: “They sure went out for a rip last night, eh?”

Definitely not new, but also not city slang, so it didn’t really make it to the Internet (as you can’t really go out and get ripped on the Internet).

Thad (user link) says:

Reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s letter to EC Comics on finding out they had adapted some of his stories without his permission:

Just a note to remind you of an oversight. You have not as yet sent on the check for $50.00 to cover the use of secondary rights on my two stories ‘The Rocket Man’ and ‘Kaleidoscope.’ . . . I feel this was probably overlooked in the general confusion of office work, and look forward to your payment in the near future.

EC sent him the check. After that, it continued to adapt his stories — but legally and officially.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: I been know to rip around

I doubt very many trademarks of that variety are ever original. But he holds it, for use on implements of drinking. Kind of weird, but it seems like a clean cease and desist and so far not an effort to lock up culture. I suppose one may see in the future. I generally find it troubling that words may be locked up themselves, absent unique design. (Even coca-cola is weird, not that anyone else would use it, but that is like getting a mark locking up lemon-lime. Or heroin-honey.)

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: I been know to rip around

Not original, not his, this is a pretty common phrase out here on the prairies.

That alone doesn’t really matter. The question is use in commerce and whether or not that use is associated with him as the TM holder — and there’s a strong case that it is.

Seems like a valid TM to me — and Coke is likely infringing.

Wothe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Canadian

Writing software for 35 years — accounting software? Obviously the wrong generation/ social circle/ whatever to have heard of this “song”.

Yes, I put “song” in quotes — because I too am a member the wrong fan group (with a presumptive stereotypical attitude about the entire genre).

But I forced myself to watch/listen to this one. Definitely cute.

Lisa Westveld (profile) says:

Respond RAPidly?

It would be fun if Coca Cola would respond to this video with their own video in which they explain why the trademark on “Out for a rip” would be invalid. I wonder if Coca Cola has enough humor to do so, as it would bring a lot of new exposure to this rapper that’s likely worth more than the trademark itself…
Especially since Coca Cola is trading in sugar-water, not rap-songs. 🙂 It is a trademark issue after all and I don’t think people would confuse black liquids with a white rapper.
Ehm, wait… Maybe they will…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...