Dunks And Drunks: Jagermeister Blocks Milwaukee Bucks Logo Trademark Application

from the deer-milwaukee dept

Just when you think you've seen it all in silly trademark filings, along comes a liquor company to block the trademark application for the logo of an NBA basketball team. Jagermeister, a liquor I haven't thought about since my college days because I'm a grownup that drinks grownup drinks, has decided that the logo for the Milwaukee Bucks is too similar to its own logo and must be stopped.

Germany-based Mast-Jägermeister SE has filed its opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The notice, filed Thursday, argues that there is a likelihood of confusion between the two logos, a false suggestion of connection and a dilution of the Jägermeister logo’s “distinctive quality.” Jägermeister says the services provided by the two organizations “are so related” that it creates the potential for confusion. The potential for confusion “is enhanced by the extraordinary fame” of Jägermeister’s trademarks, the notice says.

Here are the logos in question.

Similar? Sure, I suppose, although there are fairly distinct differences between the two logos that would probably keep any customer confusion at bay. There are those lines within the circle on Jagermeister's logo, for instance. Also that big cross at the top, there, I suppose, because Jesus was a huge fan of Bavarian digestifs. Also, and this is a minor point only, the basketball franchise's name is right there on their logo.

Regardless of all of that, whatever involvement Jagermeister has in markets other than beverages is minimal, it doesn't have anything to do with basketball, nor would it amount to creating any confusion within the public. All of which Jagermeister has essentially acknowledged in a statement saying that that it is really just wasting everyone's time with all of this while trotting out everyone's favorite excuse for paining someone else's ass with trademark law.

On Monday, Jägermeister's trademark attorney, Katrin Lewertoff of Connecticut apologized for the delay and issued a statement suggesting there really is no trademark tiff.

"Jägermeister and the Milwaukee Bucks have been cooperating on this issue for months," she said. "The filing was a formality to preserve our intellectual property rights. We expect to come to an agreement with the team soon and appreciate the climate of partnership and fair cooperation with the Milwaukee Bucks in the process."

Soon after, the Bucks chimed in with, "“The Bucks have been working amicably with Jägermeister throughout this process and we are confident that we will come to a resolution very soon.”

So everyone is going to end up playing nice over this, but Jagermeister had to block the application in order to preserve it's trademark rights. It's the same excuse we see time and time again and it's almost always false. In this case, for instance, the law only obligates Jagermeister to police it's trademarks in the face of true infringement or confusion. There is none in this case, so the blocking of the application was not necessary.

Whatever the purpose of trademark has become in modern times, I doubt the framers had intended it to simply create busy work for lawyers and USPTO employees.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2016 @ 5:44pm

    They should lose the trademark

    When a company asserts their rights incorrectly like this, they should lose the trademark. Too often small companies and individuals get bullied legally for no real reason and there is no punishment to prevent it. When an obviously baseless case like this pops up, the authorities should punish the bullies by revoking the trademark and preventing them from obtaining it again for 2 years. If they abuse it again, they should be prevented from ever having a trademark and having to pay heavy fines to the commission that monitors for abuse like this.

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

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 5:45pm

    Whatever the purpose of trademark has become in modern times, I doubt the framers had intended it to simply create busy work for lawyers and USPTO employees.

    Spoken like someone who has never had to justify their job.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2016 @ 5:58pm

    Tell them to buck off.

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

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 6:05pm

    Benefit of the Doubt

    Honestly, if I were Jaegermeister, I'd probably file the paperwork as well. As much of a pain as it is, we've had too many stories lately of judges making idiotic rulings to ignore it. Remember, this is a German company, and Germany just made the Internet Illegal in a recent ruling on linking. (And don't get me started on the idiocy of API's having copyright that is the CAFC.) Given things like that, you can't really blame them for erring on the side of assumption of judicial stupidity.

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

  • icon
    Hooter McBus (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 6:18pm

    Not unusual

    I'm assuming the 'preservation of rights' has more to do with the time within which to file an opposition.

    If it had not filed an opposition in time, it would lose any right to oppose the trade mark (except in a Courtroom).

    It is possible that it may not even actually press the opposition, but it was legally necessary to preserve its position in the event that discussions ultimately failed, and it made then considered the matter and decided at that point to oppose it.

    Preserving time limits in this manner is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 10:24am

      Re: Not unusual

      If it had not filed an opposition in time, it would lose any right to oppose the trade mark (except in a Courtroom).

      But why would they need to oppose a trademark in an unrelated industry at all?

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

      • icon
        killthelawyers (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 12:12pm

        Re: Re: Not unusual

        They don't, but it's an incentives issue. On the one hand, aggressive protection is beneficial because the other side may withdraw its application and, therefore, whatever lost value (however small) you may have suffered will not be felt. Further, it may discourage others from challenging your trademark or infringing because they're aware of how litigious you are. Lastly, there is no punishment for being overly protective, so the only costs are the money you spend and the sting from getting benchslapped on occasion.

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

  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 7:40pm

    The basketball logo looks like it has a partially drawn bio-hazard symbol in the middle, maybe someone else should be blocking as well.

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

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 19 Dec 2016 @ 8:38pm

    This is about money, of course…

    …and once Jagermeister has gotten what it can, the Bucks
    will be gagged so nobody knows how well or poorly the
    nearly-extortionate transaction went for either side.

    Odds are the lawyers got more money than Jagermeister. ‌ ;]

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2016 @ 8:51pm

    The deer with a cross between his horns is a symbol of St. Hubert. No need to sneer ignorantly "Jesus was a huge fan of Bavarian digestif". Apparently the only connection is that St. Hubert was Bavarian.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2016 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      "No need to sneer ignorantly "Jesus was a huge fan of Bavarian digestif". Apparently the only connection is that St. Hubert was Bavarian."

      So, it was St. Hubert that was the Yuge fan? Your faith is showing and it looks bad on you...

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

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      Wikipedia says it's also a symbol for St. Eustace; both patron saints of hunters. See?!?! This is what happens when people don't properly defend their trademarks!

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

  • identicon
    CharlieBrown, 19 Dec 2016 @ 11:32pm

    Of course there will be confusion

    See, you go to the game and get drunk. Although to be honest, I think more than likely people will think the basketball team is responsible for the beer, not the beer being responsible for the basketball team.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2016 @ 12:32am

    Same question

    I asked before, didn't see an answer:

    So,
    Company A has a trademark for ACME Rocketships
    Company B wants to market Acme Blowup dolls

    Why can't Company A send Company B a letter with "Company A makes rocket ships. Company B makes blowup dolls. Rather than look like complete jerks, we hereby grant a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to Company B to use ACME Blowup Dolls for a period of one year from date of blah blah blah so long as company B does not use ACME in relation to Rocket Ships." - and so on and so on.

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

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 3:39am

      Re: Same question

      It doesn't even need an answer. Because, these are not the same trademarks, even if the have the same name.

      As it happens, trademarks are per category:
      http://www.oppedahl.com/trademarks/tmclasses.htm

      Company A has a trademark in class 10, company B in class 28. Or in the other example, Jägermeister has one in class 33, and the Bucks have trademarks in 28 and 41. And they don't ever clash.

      It just seems something like "category" is too complicated a concept for (trademark)-attorneys.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 12:51am

    "Also that big cross at the top, there, I suppose, because Jesus was a huge fan of Bavarian digestifs"

    Actually:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A4germeister#Label

    "The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag.[10][11] This image is a reference to the two Christian patron saints of hunters, Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace, both of whom converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision in which they saw a Christian cross between the antlers of a stag."

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      "The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag."

      And that's relevant because "Jäger" means "hunter", and "Jägermeister" means "master hunter".

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

  • identicon
    Richard, 20 Dec 2016 @ 2:51am

    In these days of lawyers

    maybe they did need to file just in case somewhere down the line some lawyer for the "Bucks" decides that the German company's logo infringes on theirs and they didn't file so now we can and lawyers make even more money.

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

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 2:57am

    free publicity

    I read about it in a Dutch newspaper: I never saw articles about unknown foreign sporting clubs before.

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

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 4:17am

    Wait...hold on here...

    Did anyone ask the Deer what it wanted? Someone call PETA because the deer that modeled for the logos should have a say in their own likeness.

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

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 20 Dec 2016 @ 4:32am

    Yeah it is not like sports franchises plaster their logo over everything and get into beer wine and spirits right?

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

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 20 Dec 2016 @ 4:32am

    Yeah it is not like sports franchises plaster their logo over everything and get into beer wine and spirits right?

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 10:29am

      Re:

      Yeah it is not like sports franchises plaster their logo over everything and get into beer wine and spirits right?

      If the Bucks ever applied for a trademark in beverages, that is when an opposition by Jägermeister might be appropriate.

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

  • identicon
    ElvyD, 20 Dec 2016 @ 7:38am

    Jagermeister Opposition To Deers. What a rave? JM better use some service i.e. [Link](https://www.logaster.com/envelope/) to make unique logo (:

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Dec 2016 @ 9:25am

    The Bucks have been using an actual representation of a buck since 1993 (http://www.nba.com/bucks/history/logo/ ). Why didn't Jagermeister get all fussy before now?

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

  • icon
    Stan (profile), 20 Dec 2016 @ 2:55pm

    random comments

    "there are fairly distinct differences ...that would probably keep any customer confusion at bay."

    Unless the customer had a few beers and attempts to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks.

    And later on..."both of whom converted to Christianity after experiencing a vision" Kick-ass beer will do that to you. No wonder college kids like it.

    p.s. the video link is intended for viewers who are thinking of trying Jagermeister

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

  • There's a reason to their madness

    Are alcohol and basketball related for the purposes of trademarking? Probably not. However, instead of ridiculing Jagermeister for launching a baseless opposition, I would think that what they're really trying to do is to get Milwaukee Bucks to make an undertaking that they would not be getting into the alcohol business.

    Andrei Mincov
    Founder and CEO of Trademark Factory® ( https://trademarkfactory.com ), the only firm in the world where licensed lawyers and trademark agents will help you register your trademarks with a free comprehensive trademark search, for a single all-inclusive flat fee, with a 100% money-back guarantee.

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


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