Can A Moron In A Hurry Tell The Difference Between A Hershey Bar And A Couch?

from the yummy-cushions... dept

There are some legal decisions that just make no sense. Gunnar writes in to let us know of a story in Michigan, where a judge has ordered a furniture store to stop using a design that shows a couch being unwrapped from a candy bar. Hershey's sued the furniture company, claiming it violated their trademark on unwrapping chocolate bars:
Art Van
But here's the thing: even the judge admits that trademark law shouldn't apply here because it's a totally different business and there's little chance of customer confusion: "While both parties cater to the general public, there is no indication that their customers are predominantly the same. Even if their customer bases overlap to some extent ... the risk of consumers confusing a furniture outlet with a candy store, or vice versa, appears remote." Those are all things a judge says right before denying the trademark claim, but in this case, it went the other way. If a moron in a hurry isn't likely to be confused, then there's no trademark infringement. The furniture store wasn't even using the image yet -- but just had it in a contest for truck designs. At least the company hadn't spent too much money painting up all the trucks.

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  1. identicon
    James Gresham, 1 Nov 2008 @ 10:01am

    The dilution claim, the part which the judge accepted as grounds to grant the TRO is not based on the confusion standard. The fact that a news article described the picture as a sofa "partially wrapped like a Hersheys bar" and that the original design had a more brown colour even closer to Hersheys do kinda suggest that the furniture company were trying to use the brands image.

    Bear in mind that according to the summary, the defence to this charge wasn't "It isn't a Hersheys bar" but "It's a parody". Isn't that an admission that it was deliberately meant to look like a Hersheys bar, and the question is therefore simply is it a legitimate parody or not?

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