Don't Mess With Texas... Or, Well, Don't Use That Slogan As A Book Title Or Texas Will Sue

from the moron-in-a-hurry dept

You've probably heard the phrase "don't mess with texas." It's pretty widely known in general, but what you might not know is that the phrase is actually trademarked by the Texas Department of Transportation as a part of an anti-litter campaign. I had no idea. Anyway, the state is quite upset that anyone might think of the phrase in any context other than combating litter. Stephen S. Power alerts us to the news that the state has sued over a romance novel with the phrase as its title. And they're going all in. They've sued the publisher of the book, Hachette Book Group, and the author, Christie Craig, and they're even going after Barnes & Noble for daring to stock the book.
Amazingly, the state doesn't even seem to want to hide the fact that it's flat out abusing trademark law. Remember, trademark law is only supposed to prevent confusion and no "moron in a hurry" is going to think that the Texas Department of Transportation has put out a bodice ripper novel. And rather than allege that, the state seems to just be saying that it doesn't like sex:
"The book," TxDOT's suit says, "contains numerous graphic references to sexual acts, states of sexual arousal, etc."
They're afraid that this will harm their ability to keep the streets clean of litter. I'm not quite sure how. Of course, if you look, it appears that TxDOT does, in fact, have a number of federal registered trademarks on the phrase. I went through them all and not a single one appears to be for books, however. There are things like clothing, signs, luggage tags, beverage holders, garbage bags, "plastic squeeze flashlights," etc. But nothing about books.

Here's hoping the defendants do decide to "mess with Texas" and teach them a little something about trademark law.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2011 @ 10:40am

    Don't Mess with Texas: The Story Behind the Legend [Hardcover]

    Hopefully this doesn't get filtered as spam. A Google search on the phrase turned up this other book from Amazon. I think this is relevant to the story here...

    Amazon.Com: Don't Mess with Texas: The Story Behind the Legend [Hardcover]
    Tim McClure (Author)
    Roy Spence (Author)

    List Price: $24.95
    Price: $18.96 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.
    You Save: $5.99 (24%)

    Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

    Only 2 left in stock--order soon (more on the way).

    Editorial Reviews

    Product Description

    In December 1985, a bumper sticker bearing the words 'Don't Mess With Texas' began appearing on pickup trucks across the Lone Star State. There was no explanation, no sponsor, just those four words and a small red, white, and blue Texas flag. Fast-forward 20 years to 2006. Today, the longest-running public service campaign in Texas is also the most successful anti-litter campaign in history. Until now, only a handful of people knew the true stories behind the legend: the stories of the famous commercials and the stories about dozens of the biggest and brightest Texas stars who donated their time and considerable talents to help Texas reduce litter on its highways by an astonishing 72 percent.

    About the Author

    Tim McClure is a brand architect, author, filmmaker, and
    legend builder. He is one of the founders of GSD&M, one of America's most successful advertising agencies. He is also the creator of the legendary "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan and antilitter campaign.

    Roy Spence is also a founder of GSD&M. He has been profiled in USA Today, recognized as an "Agency Innovator" by Advertising Age, and named "Adman of the Century" by Texas Monthly magazine.

    Is Texas DOT behind this Don't Mess With Texas book?


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