Monster Energy Opposes Trademark For Liquor Company Logo, But Will Have A Fight On Its Hands
from the monster-mash dept
Long-time Techdirt readers will likely hear the name Monster Energy and immediately roll their eyes. The energy drink company’s reputation for being an insanely aggressive trademark bully probably actually competes with its reputation for making beverages. The company has attempted to trademark bully companies that range from differently-named root beer makers to companies that make video games. Notable in most of these bullying attempts is how little likelihood for confusion there actually is between Monster’s marks and those who it attempts to bully. And, of course, the sad reality that many victims bend to Monster’s demands rather than put up a legal fight.
But one liquor distillery that has had Monster Energy oppose the trademark application for its logo is claiming it’s going to fight back.
Family-owned MurLarkey Distillery in Bristow says it is taking the fight to Monster Energy, the energy drink company, over the right to trademark its “M” logo, which appears on its liquor bottles and merchandise.
After MurLarkey applied for the trademark, Monster Energy lodged an objection with the U.S. Patent Trade Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in May. MurLarkey’s Tom Murray says he is not going to be bullied by a company that has become known for its overly aggressive tactics enforcing its trademark rights.
Now, the logos in question are not completely dissimilar. Here they are, side by side.
Except there are a number of problems here. First, the reason these logos look similar at all is because the both prominently feature a big “M.” That single letter is absolutely not unique. The other reason they might seem similar to your eye is because both feature the actual names of the company in smaller type below that “M.” There’s some aesthetic similarity in that. But those are really the only arguments Monster has here, because everything else about this makes it unlikely anyone is going to be confused by Murlarkey’s logo. Let’s count the ways.
To start, the two companies operate in different markets. Yes, both serve liquid for consumption, but one makes an energy drink, while the other is selling liquor, such as vodka. Those are distinct markets and not easily confused during the purchasing process. Beyond that, Murlarkey’s logo features its name, a different font for its “M”, and the addition of three stars at the top of the logo. These are all far more unique than having a big “M” as part of the logo. Add on to all of that the fact that the “M” logo is used sparingly on liquor bottles themselves and, when it does, is featured on a tiny label near the mouth of the bottle, and any chance for confusion vanishes. Hell, even the apparel Murlarkey’s is selling with versions of the logo is obviously benign.
If that causes you to at all think of Monster Energy drinks, then you have brain damage and need immediate care. But with Monster Energy, it’s never actually about customer confusion. Instead, the company is nearly pathological in its trademark bullying, as if the legal team there sees someone using an “M” and just can’t help but scratch that trademark bullying itch.
Let’s just hope that Murlarkey’s makes good on its promise to fight back.