Dairy Queen Loses On ‘Blizzard Water’ Trademark Suit With W. B. Mason

from the brrrrrrr dept

Late last year we discussed a plainly stupid trademark lawsuit brought by Dairy Queen, which makes tasty frozen snacks, and W.B. Mason which is a strange combination of furniture and grocery store. At issue was the latter’s attempt to trademark some bottled water it sells under the brand “Blizzard Water”. Notably, W.B. Mason had sold water under that brand since 2010 without issue and it was only when Dairy Queen caught wind of the trademark application that it decided to sue over the potential for confusion with its blizzard ice cream products.

If you didn’t read that original post, you’re probably now wondering why this is a thing at all, given that water and ice cream are very much not the same products and that the two companies operate in different marketplaces. Well, according to Dairy Queen’s suit, it sells blizzards as noted, and it also sells Dasani bottled water, therefore there would be customer confusion.

Fortunately, in a massive decision, the court saw how silly that argument was and found in favor of W.B. Mason.

In a 217-page decision made public on Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson found a lack of evidence that consumers were confused by the Blizzards or that W.B. Mason, an office products distributor, intended to confuse anyone.

While acknowledging that W.B. Mason, which has two trademarks for Blizzard copy paper, was not a competitor, Dairy Queen said consumers might be confused because its U.S. restaurants sell bottled water. But the judge said the products had “very different audience appeal,” and co-existed for 11 years despite evidence that Dairy Queen’s Blizzard had achieved “iconic” status, with U.S. sales reaching $1.1 billion in 2020.

Notably, as part of the facts the court uncovered and laid out in its decision, W.B. Mason doesn’t even sell its water direct to consumers. Instead, it sells water to be used in office break rooms, as the majority of its business is in office furniture. On top of that, the court points out that Dairy Queen offered no evidence of any actual customer confusion that occurred over nearly a decade.

“Dairy Queen introduced no evidence of an actual association between the two products,” Nelson wrote. “If association were to occur, in all likelihood, it would have occurred by now.”

Dairy Queen has made some noises about appealing the ruling, but I doubt that will happen. This whole thing has been a trademark suit nothingburger from the start.

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Companies: dairy queen, w.b. mason

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Comments on “Dairy Queen Loses On ‘Blizzard Water’ Trademark Suit With W. B. Mason”

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15 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Have you seen how dumb our customers are?'

It never ceases to amuse and amaze me how unbelievably stupid trademark cases like this portray a company’s customers as, as though anyone was going to walk into a ‘furniture and grocery store’ and think they were in a Dairy Queen because water was available to purchase and it had ‘Blizzard’ as part of the name.

Best case scenario I can see is this was Dairy Queen’s lawyers padding their paychecks or trying to justify their pay because damn does that company think their customers are idiots if they actually thought that was a valid argument.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re:

One could blame the IP boogeymen.
Look what happened to Jello, to Xerox, to Bandaid!!!
They lost control over their marks and it cost them trillions and put them out of business.
The shareholders will be mad if you don’t fight every single possible imaginary battle that might result in our marks no longer being our marks.

So what if the mark is in an entirely different category, a market we do no business in, we have to do this to protect the sacred mark.

It is a small cost to open a pop up shop half way around the world for 3 days to make sure we can retain the mark in a market we haven’t seen as important enough to actually open our business there yet… but we might someday and we have to make sure no one else can use the mark we’re not using.

Remember…
VHS is the Boston Strangler that murdered Hollywood all the way to the bank with record fucking profits… because at least a couple people traded tapes or made shitty copies so we lost even more money than we made!!!

Fear of there being a loss & angry shareholders help push the insanity. I mean if they had spent half of their ‘piracy/protection’ cash on developing tech we’d have holographic movies or something as awesome already. Instead every new development is crushed if someone can dream of a way it might cost them a penny.

Mick says:

Re: Re: That's not how it works

The whole “you HAVE to sue or you’ll lose your trademark” is something only people who don’t know anything about trademarks say.

Also, DQ in this case could have easily just offered to license the name in perpetuity for $1 instead of suing. The “protection” would have been identical, but cheaper.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The whole “you HAVE to sue or you’ll lose your trademark” is something only people who don’t know anything about trademarks say.”

You mean like the board of DQ who pay a bunch of educated lawyers who KNOW this is all bullshit and they STILL did it??

Until some bar decides it might be malpractice to bring one of these suits, which frankly is never gonna fscking happen because lawyers suck, and there is a punishment for the lawyer for proceeding with a bullshit case they won’t stop.

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