Monster Energy Goes After Autobody Shop Because Of It's 'M' Logo And Use Of Green Color
from the monster-mash dept
For regular readers of Techdirt, Monster Energy is one of those companies that need only appear in the headline of a post before the reader knows that said post will be about some ridiculous trademark bullying Monster is doing. The company has a reputation for being about as belligerent on trademark matters as it could possibly be, lobbing lawsuits and trademark oppositions as though the company lawyers had literally nothing else to do with their time. And, while many, many, many of these bullying attempts fail when the merits are considered, the fact is that the bullying still often succeeds in its goal to use the massive Monster Energy coffers to bully victims into either submission or corporate death.
The really frustrating part in all of this is how often Monster Energy attempts to trademark bully companies that aren’t remotely competing in their market. One recent example of this is Monster going after MPT Autobody in South Carolina. For disclosure, one of the founders of MPT reached out to me personally to inform me of exactly what was going on. Based on our conversation and what I can see in public records, the order of events appears to go something like this:
- MPT Autobody submits an application to trademark its name and branding (pictures will be below)
- Monster Energy opposes the application, citing that MPT’s branding in part includes a stylized “M” and the color “green” and will therefore confuse the public into thinking it’s associated with Monster Energy
- After consulting with a lawyer, MPT Autobody drops the application, intending to simply do business without the trademark
- Despite that, Monster Energy then sends a C&D notice, arguing that the continued use of “M”s and “green” constitutes copyright infringement, along with a demand that MPT pay Monster Energy’s attorney’s fees
I have embedded the entire C&D notice below so you can go see the details for yourself. That said, let’s start with a couple of facts at the top of all of this. Monster Energy does not have the right to block other companies from using the letter “M” in their branding. Monster Energy also does not have the right to block other companies from using the colors green or black in their branding. Monster Energy also generally does not have the right to block other companies from using green or black “M”s in their branding.
And, yet, simply because Monster Energy sponsors some auto race activities, its letter claims exactly that and, as a result, it includes in its letter the following pictures as to what will confuse the public.
Now, if any of that branding out in the wild brings to mind Monster Energy, you need help. And keep in mind that for all of Monster Energy’s reference to its sponsorship of trucks and cars, it is not in the autobody industry. Given that, there is a hell of a high bar to climb to prove that any of this is infringement.
All of which may end up being besides the point. MPT is going to have hefty bills on its hands if it wants to fight this out, even as it seems to be trying to play nicely with Monster Energy as much as it can. For instance, the company’s site now has a disclaimer on it, noting that they are not affiliated with Monster Energy. The company is also looking into the potential of using a different shade of green on branding, though it’s anyone’s guess if that would satisfy Monster Energy. The trademark app has been withdrawn.
But trademark bullies are never satisfied with that sort of thing. Instead, they want to grind their victims into the ground. Here’s hoping that doesn’t end up being the case with MPT Autobody.