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 @ 12:25pm

    Aug 24 Update: Author can 'mess with Texas' all she wants

    Judge: Author can 'mess with Texas' all she wants”, by Christopher Calnan, Staff writer, Austin Business Journal, Wed, Aug 24, 2011:
    A federal judge in Austin has denied the Texas Department of Transportation’s request for a restraining order in a trademark infringement case regarding a romance novel entitled “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

    Following a Monday hearing, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks denied TxDOT’s request.


    (Via Houston Press Hair Balls blog.)

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