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. icon
    John (profile), 3 Nov 2008 @ 1:22pm

    Hmm...

    A few points:

    1) I agree with the above poster that the van company had terrible legal counsel. The judge basically agreed with them in his statements, but then ruled against them? What??

    2) How in the words is unwrapping a bar of chocolate an extension of trademark or however the judge worded it? Does this mean that opening *anything* can be an "extension"? If Apple started running ads showing a Mac being unwrapped, could they take ownership of a trademarked "computer being pulled out of a box"?
    I'm sure that's not what the founding fathers had in mind when they created the trademark and copyright system?

    And, again, how does allowing Hershey to stop a van company from showing a sofa "innovate" or "promote the science"?

    3) Where was this case heard? Why do I get the feeling it was in Hershey's home town of (surprise) Hershey, PA? And who's the biggest employer in Hershey? I'm be willing to guess it's Hershey. And who has the most money and the biggest team of attorneys in the town of Hershey?

    Can anyone say "not even close to a fair trial"? I hope the van's legal team appeals because of this.

    Though do they have the money to file an appeal and continue the fight? Or is it the usual story of the defendant giving up because they can't afford any more money on the court case?

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