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.

Filed Under: chocolate, couch, furniture, logo, moron in a hurry, trademark
Companies: hershey

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  1. identicon
    Will (again), 2 Nov 2008 @ 8:37pm

    Re: James Gresham, comment

    You know, I wonder if I can sue a law firm for poor representation.

    I mean, if I was the furniture company and I paid a laywer to represent me to the fullest extent of the law, could I then get another law firm to sue that first lawyer or law firm for not winning the case after I win in an appeals court?

    1) Did the company, or the artist, make use the words, "Like a Hershey's Bar" or was that an independent reference from a newspaper article? If it was the Artist or the newspaper, couldn't Art Vans now sue them for losses? Wow, now Art Vans, the Newspaper, and the art community will all boycott Hersheys, right? Oh, and then everyone else in the world who felt traumatized over this could sue anyone else with a candy wrapper for unwittingly subjecting them to a reminder of this pain.

    2) Did the company use the words, "Its a Parody", or did the lawyer? Because either way, it was poor judgement. But still, do people sue SNL? What about the makers of those parody gag gifts that bear far mor resemblence to the actual product?

    3) What about Hersheys' exports to other countries? Should I advise my Korean friends to sue Hersheys for dilution if their wrapper here in Korea bears resemblence to a domestic brand? If I did, would I then be sued back in the US for slander? Is it safe to come home next month?

    4) And I agree, Hershey's isn't even good chocolate anymore. The other day, I bought a Symphony bar, remembering fondly how Symphony was finer chocolate than Hersheys. I know that its the same brand. Could I have sued Hersheys for false advertising? Actually, I know that I couldn't because Hersheys has that little clause on the paper and foil wrapper still used for those larger bars that I can return a faulty product for a full refund.

    I hope Hersheys and Art Van do come across this post.

    @Hersheys' Lawyers: Please stop doing damage to the future of the US copyright system, to Hersheys, and to America. Copyrights are here to protect, not destroy. Isn't Krackel a Hershey product? So a red label isn't any better than Brown. What about the yellow background? Can we say, Mr. Goodbar?

    @Art Van: Get better legal counsel. Get it before you advertise. Certainly get it before preparing a defense. I am truly sorry you lost. If no one else supports you, I do.

    @Congress: Stop.

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