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Vicious Cycle: When Those Abused By Trademark Abuse Others With Trademark

from the neverending-story dept

There's a theory I learned in my college psychology classes about the nature of abusers and their victims, and what are the best criteria for predicting if a person will become an abuser. While the causes and histories of abusers are as varied as you'd expect, the general thought was that the best predictor for finding a future abuser was whether that person had been abused themselves. The study topics of that class centered around emotional, physical, and sexual abusers, but I see no reason why we can't apply the theory to other types of "abuse."

Say, trademark, for instance. Is someone who was bullied long ago over a trademark more likely to bully others in the same manner? I'm not sure, of course, but here's one anectodal instance of a small liquor marketer who felt the stern hand of a trademark bully long ago and has since turned to that tactic himself. Let's start off by examining the patient's history, shall we?

In 2000, [Andre] Levy launched a whiskey brand called Wild Geese. To Levy and his Irish wife Mairade, who live in Switzerland, the brand clearly evoked the story of 17th century Irish soldiers, known as the Wild Geese, who fled to France at the end of a war with the English. Pernod Ricard (RI:FP), the spirits company that owned Wild Turkey bourbon at the time, thought the new brand looked like a trademark violation. Levy, like the Irish soldiers that inspired him, eventually capitulated before a more powerful opponent. In 2008, he added the phrase “Irish Soldiers and Heroes” to the name on bottles sold in the U.S., which he says sufficiently distinguished it from the other wild fowl-branded booze. He later added the tagline “Untamed,” registering the mark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 2011.
So, here we see the "abuse." Now, just to be clear, I don't mean to equate trademark disputes with personal abuse. They're obviously not the same thing and this is obviously an incredibly imperfect analogy. That said, seen through the lens of that analogy, one might expect that going through what had to be quite a frustrating experience with Wild Turkey acting the absolute fool and stomping on the little guy (classic abuser behavior) could be an indicator that Levy would cycle into becoming an abuser himself. And, in my estimation, that's exactly what he did. Remember that "Untamed" trademark?
Last year, Bacardi sought to register the phrase “Bacardi Untameable” with the USPTO. Levy filed an objection and hopes to persuade the trademark office that Bacardi’s application, if approved, would violate his existing mark. In addition to his formal objection, Levy launched a website that asks visitors to rally lawmakers and bartenders to his cause. His tone is blustery: “Bacardi’s actions are a danger to all entrepreneurs and to Irish heritage,” the website says.
Like the earlier case, this seems to be a case of trademark over-protectionism. Customer confusion appears quite unlikely, given the plain branding with Bacardi's name on the bottle and its status within the industry. It's also quite likely that the marketing teams at Bacardi had no idea Levy and his whiskey brand even existed. Yet, here we are, with a trademark dispute and overblown claims about Bacardi endangering "all entrepreneurs" and "Irish heritage." Please.

But that's what happens in these abuse cycles. Rationality is done away with by the past and common sense is replaced by senses of anger and loss. Again, not a perfect analogy, but should you take a moment to examine the neverending march towards more protectionism of intellectual property, this pattern or cycle of victims turning into abusers fits like a jigsaw piece in just the right puzzle.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    seedeevee (profile), Apr 28th, 2014 @ 8:51pm

    I like where you were going with the abusive abusee but,

    "It's also quite likely that the marketing teams at Bacardi had no idea Levy and his whiskey brand even existed"

    I can't imagine the marketing team at multi-Billion$ Bacardi not knowing every name of every booze on the planet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Trademark (profile), Apr 28th, 2014 @ 10:54pm

    I agreed with seedeevee, the team of Bacardi should investigate before take further action.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2014 @ 10:56pm

    Abused? No, he's been reeducated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Mark Noo (profile), Apr 28th, 2014 @ 11:52pm

    Puritans

    I like your analogy. To further the cause I would like to point out the Puritans.

    One of the reasons the Puritans fled to the New World was religious freedom. Once they arrived in the New World they promptly began putting anyone who disagreed with them in the "stocks" or worse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 2:13am

    Considering Patents, Copyright, and Trademarks laws. Trademarks is the only one of the three that makes any sort of sense and serves a useful purpose for humanity.

    A useful purpose in the sense that purchasers can be confident when purchasing a product, that product is being manufactured by a certain individual or company, and it's not a cheap knock-off being built to an inferior quality standard compared to the original brand.

    That being said, I don't believe single words that are found in the dictionary should be trademarkable. Words such as 'Untamed' and 'Candy' are good examples.

    If common dictionary words are used to trademark your product, then at least two or more words should be combined to form that trademark. 'Wild Geese' or 'Candy Crush' would be acceptable. 'Geese' or 'Candy' would not be acceptable trademarks, solely on their own.

    The only way to use a single word for a trademark, would be to make up a new word not found in the dictionary. 'Xbox' or 'Bacardi' would be acceptable, because those words were not found in the dictionary at the time of their trademark registration.

    That's my thoughts on trademarks. As for patents and copyrights, those should be abolished for the good of humanity.

     

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  6.  
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    Whatever, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:21am

    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail... when you have a hatred of copyright, trademarks, and patents, everything looks like part of a giant conspiracy.

    Just saying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Brent Ashley (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 4:36am

    In related news...

    Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    DaveK (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:11am

    This is the worst thing I've seen on Techdirt ever.

    This is the most appallingly crass, thoughtless, insensitive post I've ever seen on TD. Look, I'm perfectly aware that it's not your _intention_ to trivialise and belittle the feelings of those who have suffered *real* abuse, but it's the absolutely inevitable and easily-forseeable consequence of casually throwing around this metaphor, and you should not have posted this article in its current form.

    There's a classic poem whose name escapes me now that refers to "that which every schoolboy learns / those to whom evil is done, do evil in return." You could have used that or any one of a vast number of other metaphors to make the same point without being so tasteless and insensitive. Why don't you do the right thing by those who have suffered real and ongoing harm: pull the post, rewrite it in a different way that still makes the same point, and repost it when you can be confident that it's not going to cause offence and distress for no good reason.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:38am

    Re: Puritans

    Some did but not most.

    One thing that seems fairly evident about history. The greatest abuses are usually perpetrated by a select small, but very prominent group.

    Most did seek Religious Freedom, but some of the most prominent, ya know the people with power trippin issues, went the same path of doing these things. Same with slavery, few people had slaves, most were poor like them, but because the few could do it on such a large scale its seemed like everyone had one from our 'politically bullshit colored' historical lenses.

    When a group of decent people get their freedoms... invariably there is an ass-clown looking to take advantage of the situation. Everyone seems to look at history and try to elevate or mitigate events that support or belittle their causes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 5:45am

    Re: In related news...

    Wildwings

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    LAB (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    "Wild Turkey acting the absolute fool and stomping on the little guy (classic abuser behavior)."

    Am I sure I can not be the only person thinking there could easily be brand confusion between two whiskeys, one "Wild Geese" and the other "Wild Turkey."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Vinquus, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 7:39am

    What's sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander, surely?

    Surely?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    May I recommend this 'letter of note' first used 23 years ago today in response to legal threats http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/08/arkell-v-pressdram.html as being suitable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Bacardi Controversial, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 8:56am

    Bacardi Controversial

    The pattern of behaviour you claim to have identified raises interesting questions about Bacardi's behaviour. Taking your post to its logical (sic) conclusion, it could be argued that Bacardi, feeling that they have been abused by Castro's armed regime in taking from them their property by force, may now be acting out the same behaviour in taking from smaller companies their "intellectual" property - a process known as reverse trademarking. Bacardi's "patient" record demonstrates this very behaviour.

    The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, also said that sometimes a cigar (Cuban at that) is just a cigar. Maybe sometimes the taking of someone's trademark by a larger (Cuban) co is just that; taking someone else's property because they think they can. We leave it to the reader to make their own minds up. They can find the information about Bacardi's past and present behaviour on our site www.bacardi-controversial.com

     

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  15.  
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    letherial (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    I know this is off topic, but I feel it must be said. First a quote from your article

    "the general thought was that the best predictor for finding a future abuser was whether that person had been abused themselves. "

    Then a quote from the article(you linked to)

    "While it is important to realize that not all abusers were abused as children, and that many if not most people who are abused do not go on to become abusers themselves"

    So your wrong there, and the only reason why i bring this up is because people who where abused dont need to have that used it against them, and it is often times because of false information like what you lead your article with.

    Im disappointed, i always thought tech dirt was interested in facts that are provable, not a stereotype thought that lends a hand to leaving people in abusive situations.

    Simply put, shame on you for what you said, you should re-write that article because you are simply wrong in that premise and it undermined everything you said afterword.

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 29th, 2014 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    Try posting the full quote next time....

    “While it is important to realize that not all abusers were abused as children, and that many if not most people who are abused do not go on to become abusers themselves, child abuse is most likely the single largest risk factor –biological, psychological, or sociocultural – for later adult abusive behavior,” David M. Allen, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

    Child abuse is the largest risk factor, or predictor, for people to become abusive. That, nor my article, doesn't say the abused are MORE LIKELY THAN NOT to become abusers, only that they are more likely than the general population.

    Take your shaming some place more deserving and read the god damned links fully, rather than trying to pick a half a quote out for your own stupid purposes.

    Or don't. I don't really care.

     

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  17.  
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    Ryuugami, Apr 29th, 2014 @ 8:45pm

    Re: This is the worst thing I've seen on Techdirt ever.

    ...

    You might want some ointment for that butthurt. It's obvious Tim is not equating trademark abuse with any other type of abuse that may have pulled your righteousness-trigger. The "vicious cycle" is a general term, and he only gave some usual examples of it.

    repost it when you can be confident that it's not going to cause offence and distress for no good reason.

    That condition would eliminate something like 95% of the entire Internet, Techdirt included. Rule of thumb: whatever you say or write, someone is going to be offended or distressed. See also: the "right to not be offended" does not, and should not, exist in a more-or-less free society.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 2:28am

    Re: Wild Turkey

    Well we won't ask you to get the turkey at Thanksgiving:)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2014 @ 2:47am

    Re:

    In reply to LAB: "Wild Turkey acting the absolute fool and stomping on the little guy (classic abuser behavior)."

    Am I sure I can not be the only person thinking there could easily be brand confusion between two whiskeys, one "Wild Geese" and the other "Wild Turkey."

    Well we won't ask you to get the turkey at Thanksgiving:)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Brent Ashley (profile), Apr 30th, 2014 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re: Wild Turkey

    Agreed, it would probably turn out to be a wild turkey chase.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Pragmatic, May 1st, 2014 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re:

    What Tim said. Remember, in abuse cases, abusers will often break down and claim to have been abused themselves, claiming victim status as mitigation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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