Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations

from the meowsers dept

A couple of weeks back, we discussed the story of Caterpillar Inc., famous manufacturers of tractor equipment, deciding to bully Cat & Cloud Coffee, makers of you’ll-never-guess-what, all because the former had long ago trademarked “CAT” as a truncated brand. At issue specifically is Cat & Cloud’s use of the word “cat” on clothing and merchandise it sells, with Caterpillar claiming there is the potential for public confusion with its own clothing and merch lines. This is, of course, plainly ridiculous. There is no overlap in the branding and nobody is going to confuse the tractor folks with the coffee folks.

Others pointed out that there are tons of other companies out there that sell apparel and/or merch while holding trademarks that incorporate the word “cat.” If those other companies are allowed to exist, why not Cat & Cloud? Caterpillar Inc. heard you dear friends, but its response is probably not the one you were hoping for.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Cat & Cloud is among 174 registered trademarks including the word “cat”. Caterpillar has filed 125 cancellation petitions so far including one to internet sensation Keyboard Cat. You may have been one of the 150-million viewers of the viral video of a feline, clad in a blue shirt, playing the piano.

Charlie Schmidt, Creator of Keyboard Cat and www.keyboardcat.com spoke to us about his ordeal.

“I’m just a poor artist trying to you know, maintain my integrity! Who wants to hurt a tractor company just by having a cat!?”

So, yeah, Caterpillar has expanded its trademark bullying out to encompass more small businesses. It is again defending its actions by saying they are only targeted for apparel trademarks, but that still isn’t good enough. It’s virtually impossible to believe that all 125 trademarks for the apparel in question comprise uses that would actually cause any real public confusion. Instead, this is obviously a corporate legal team pulling out the legal shotgun and just spraying buckshot everywhere it can.

For Cat & Cloud, at least, its story is getting some public attention.

Customers including tech titan Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist for Apple and current Chief Evangelist for Canva, is getting behind the café, leveraging his millions of online followers to join the effort.

“Sometimes you have to stand up for something. For the principal of it. And this is one of those times.”

Actress Sophia Bush has also weighed in on Instagram to help Cat & Cloud.

Now we just have to marshal forces for the hundred-plus other victims of Caterpillar’s bullying, I suppose.

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Companies: cat & cloud, caterpillar

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Comments on “Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations”

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47 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The consternation of confusion

If the cat is in the bag, then the caterpillar got eaten, or became it’s toy.

How the trademark thing works out will depend upon whether the USPTO can discern the difference between a company that makes large machines and others who happen for what is likely a large variety of reasons, use the word cat in their trademarks. Since the basis for trademark is consumer confusion one must wonder how the USPTO might go about determining if a ‘cat’ company is confused over whether they are buying a tractor or a cup of coffee.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The consternation of confusion

Come now, nobody is saying anyone is confused over whether they’re buying a tractor or a cup of coffee. The confusion would be over whether they’re buying a shirt from Caterpillar or a shirt from one of hundreds of other sources.

Which is still ridiculous. I don’t think any company should be able to prevent other companies from using the word "cat" on a shirt, even if both were apparel companies, so long as they aren’t using the actual logo.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The consternation of confusion

I watched in horror as a friend of mine and his dad got crushed in a d9 caterpillar bulldozer when an overhanging rock ledge fell off the side of the mountain they were working on in Alaska. I think if it had been a "CAT" it would have jumped out of the way before it got crushed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The consternation of confusion

Someone needs to start a company that sells cat apparel, and then sue to get Caterpillar’s trademark removed from apparel use, as it’s not their primary business, "Cat" has very little to do with the company’s actual name, and it is harming the cat apparel industry.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Look, billable hours!

And this is what happens when you’ve got a pack of lawyers sitting on their asses and someone in the company paying them asks the dreaded question, ‘Why are we paying you again?’

Caterpillar has filed 125 cancellation petitions so far including one to internet sensation Keyboard Cat.

Oh yeah, I can’t see that leading to a public relations nightmare, I mean what could possibly go wrong going after a well known meme involving a cat?

Anonmylous says:

MindBlown.gif

I never thought I would see it. I mean, its absolutely bonkers, right? Inconceivable really! I never once believed I would see the day when a large corporation took it upon THEMSELVES to prove their own Trademark was too generic! Well, as the meme goes… "That’s a bold move Cotton, let’s see if it pays off!"

jean says:

Re: Cat competitor

I work doing heavy machinery construction and earth moving, and I would have to say simply this; CAT SUCKS….the controls are backwards!!!
I don’t know the whole story of cats control scheme but from what I know, they copied existing machine designs, then changed the controls slightly so they could enforce patenting and trademark bs more rigorously.
Fun fact, if you learn cat controls, you are vendor locked to cat unless you unlearn it and relearn standard controls?
With standard controls/backhoe, you can run multiple machine types without your brain melting, so the next time some smug union worker gives you sh*t about not running cat controls, just ask them to run a backhoe; face goes pale and sweat beads on their forehead. ‘ermm uhh umm I wont stoop to that level…”
yea right

AgonizingFury says:

I don’t know why everyone is upset about this. This could be very serious business.

I drive a caterpillar Hi-Lo for work. Imagine how badly I could be injured if I tried to pick up a 2000 pound pallet with my coffee cup because I was confused by confusing branding!

Please stop hating on caterpillar for trying to ensure that the users of their products are fully informed of exactly what they are using and keeping them safe.

Glenn says:

It seems psychotic to me that Caterpillar thinks their CAT (not "Cat" or "cat") logo has anything to do with cats. Is this a nuisance tactic for the purpose of advertising (and they just don’t mind looking really stupid… or maybe they’re used to that**)?

**Unfortunately, the USPTO has proven itself pretty stupid in the past, so there’s some possibility that they’ll get what they want.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re:

"Why would a huge corporation come into my house and knock everything off the countertops?"
four gorgeous homes have been turned into dirt lots
-In This City Block-
since January 1st, a Caterpillar demolition excavator has been shaking all the glassware off the shelves for weeks preparing to put up 4-6 units where each of my neighbors homes were.
You see, under the Cheeto’s tax giveaway, any Real Estate LLC that "improves" a parcel or business more than 50% within 8,700 ‘Opportunity Zones’ pays NO income/capital gains tax for ten years. The 1% are plowing us under, after they handcuff us and throw us into the patrol car. Why? We pay 1976 property tax to live here……

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