Canadian Rapper Sends Rap Video Cease & Desist Letter To Coca Cola For 'Jacking' His Catchphrase

from the our-for-a-sip? dept

So we've seen some unique and amusing trademark disputes in the past, but this one beats them all. Canadian lawyer Rob Kittredge got to send a rap video cease-and-desist to Coca Cola. Yes, you heard me correctly. A rap video cease and desist. Not a cease and desist letter about a video. The video is the cease and desist letter. Check it out:

And... yes, it appears that Rob is, in fact, the lawyer in the video as well. As background -- if you somehow missed it -- a few years ago, there was a virally popular rap song and video, by Brendan "B.Rich" Richmond, called Out for a Rip, spoofing Canadian culture/stereotypes. It got over 12 million views, and has become a bit of an anthem.

So, yeah. Coca Cola is using the phrase "out for a rip" on its Coke bottles and Richmond and his lawyer Kittredge decided the best way to respond was to write a song calling out Coca Cola on this and then recording a whole video. At the end of the video there's an actual letter (part of which is dictated in the song itself) which is also pretty damn amusing:

Dear Coke,

I represent Brendan (B.Rich) Richmond (a.k.a. Friggin' Buddy). You jacked his catchphrase, but you already know that.

Buddy owns the registered trademark "OUT FOR A RIP" in Canada (TMA934277). The music video for buddy's original composition "OUT FOR A RIP" has been viewed more than 12 million times. Canadians associate the phrase "OUT FOR A RIP" with him.

Personally, I'm pretty psyched about this once-in-a-career opportunity to send a demand letter in the form of a rap video. Nonetheless, unlicensed use of OUT FOR A RIP violates my client's rights. From what I understand, you guys do fairly well for yourselves - at least in comparison to most other multinational corporations, the GDP of most countries, or, say, the average musician, right? No room in your budget to clear IP rights?

Contact me no later than August 1, 2017 to discuss settlement of this matter. If you do not wish to discuss settlement, we require that you immediately cease using the OUT FOR A RIP mark, recall all OUT FOR A RIP bottles, and take immediate steps to preserve all relevant evidence in anticipation of possible litigation.

Regards,
Rob Kittredege

So... yeah. I have no idea if this is a valid trademark claim, though it certainly sounds plausible. The trademark certainly exists, and does cover the phrase on "mugs, coffee mugs, travel mugs, cups, drinking cups and beer steins." I've seen some people complain that "out for a rip" was in common usage going back decades, but in searching for the history of it, the phrase does show up in Urban Dictionary... but entered by "B. Richmond" about a week after the original song was released.

So it certainly seems pretty credible that the public associates the phrase with Brendan Richmond. Either way, I actually think this kind of response is pretty clever, no matter what. Despite being a legal cease and desist, it certainly doesn't come off as bullying -- and actually does a pretty good job of just publicizing Richmond and his music -- no matter what happens with Coca Cola. If Coke is smart -- and I'm hoping its lawyers are -- I would imagine that responding along the lines of what's suggested in the video would be the best way to settle this situation with everyone coming out of it looking good.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2017 @ 12:23pm

    "I've seen some people complain that "out for a rip" was in common usage going back decades...."

    It wasn't in common usage on the Internet, but this was in common usage in the early 80's. Basically it meant to go out with friends to some secluded spot on Crown land, get high, and get drunk. Sometimes it also referred to gleefully riding drunk through town in the back of a pickup truck: "They sure went out for a rip last night, eh?"

    Definitely not new, but also not city slang, so it didn't really make it to the Internet (as you can't really go out and get ripped on the Internet).

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

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 12:37pm

    And just when ya thought ya knew everything aboot Canadian pop culture, eh?

    Apologies to Dave Thomas, but if I've got the lexicon right, B.Rich is getting hosed, and Coca-Cola is the hoser.

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

  • identicon
    Thad, 13 Jul 2017 @ 12:38pm

    Reminds me of Ray Bradbury's letter to EC Comics on finding out they had adapted some of his stories without his permission:

    Just a note to remind you of an oversight. You have not as yet sent on the check for $50.00 to cover the use of secondary rights on my two stories ‘The Rocket Man’ and ‘Kaleidoscope.’ . . . I feel this was probably overlooked in the general confusion of office work, and look forward to your payment in the near future.

    EC sent him the check. After that, it continued to adapt his stories -- but legally and officially.

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

  • icon
    truenorthern (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 12:57pm

    I been know to rip around

    'Out for a rip'
    'rip around'
    'out ripping around'
    'rip to town for a Pil'
    Not original, not his, this is a pretty common phrase out here on the prairies.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 4:47pm

      Re: I been know to rip around

      I doubt very many trademarks of that variety are ever original. But he holds it, for use on implements of drinking. Kind of weird, but it seems like a clean cease and desist and so far not an effort to lock up culture. I suppose one may see in the future. I generally find it troubling that words may be locked up themselves, absent unique design. (Even coca-cola is weird, not that anyone else would use it, but that is like getting a mark locking up lemon-lime. Or heroin-honey.)

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 14 Jul 2017 @ 5:47pm

      Re: I been know to rip around

      Not original, not his, this is a pretty common phrase out here on the prairies.

      That alone doesn't really matter. The question is use in commerce and whether or not that use is associated with him as the TM holder -- and there's a strong case that it is.

      Seems like a valid TM to me -- and Coke is likely infringing.

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

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 13 Jul 2017 @ 1:17pm

    Canadian

    I'm Canadian and I've never heard of this song

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 2:56pm

      Re: Canadian

      I too am Canadian and have never heard of this song.

      And I'm as much an authority on today's pop culture as anyone who has been writing accounting software for 35 years. It doesn't make sense!

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

      • icon
        Wothe (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 4:50pm

        Re: Re: Canadian

        Writing software for 35 years -- **accounting** software? Obviously the wrong generation/ social circle/ whatever to have heard of this "song".

        Yes, I put "song" in quotes -- because I too am a member the wrong fan group (with a presumptive stereotypical attitude about the entire genre).

        But I forced myself to watch/listen to this one. Definitely cute.

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

  • identicon
    SubUltraFool, 13 Jul 2017 @ 1:29pm

    What if its a corporate false flag?

    What if it is guerilla marketing disquised as a serious legal dispute? Then what are we going to do?

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 1:52pm

      Re: What if its a corporate false flag?

      Coca Cola HAS been known for huge stunts that benefit the bottom line. This could easily be a relatively small one for them. It's certainly only chump-change for them regardless of how they handle it, but the free advertising they're getting now is worth at least tens of millions.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 14 Jul 2017 @ 5:28am

      Re: What if its a corporate false flag?

      We are going to be happy that marketing has progressed that far.

      It appears spontaneous, it's pretty entertaining, and if they respond correctly, could be fun to watch.

      If this entire thing has been a marketing stunt, it's a great one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2017 @ 1:58pm

    Still easier than solving a dispute over a free VTOL though.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2017 @ 2:33pm

    hahahahaahahaaha, love it! pay the men cola corp

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

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 4:00pm

    I had to laugh at this video, this is a pretty novel way to let someone know of infringement. Now we have to wait to see what coke will do.

    I give credit to this guy and his lawyer for doing it this way.. too funny

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Jul 2017 @ 4:51pm

    When I read this...

    ...I immediately thought of being taken out to sea on a rip tide. Am I missing something?

    Maybe it is my experience with the seaside where the dangers of a rip tide are legion, rather than my lack of studying the newest waves of pop-culture, that carry me out to sea, but in a different and depressing way?

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 14 Jul 2017 @ 5:27am

    lol hilarious, I hope he gets his truck of coke lmao

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

  • icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 2 Oct 2017 @ 3:59am

    Respond RAPidly?

    It would be fun if Coca Cola would respond to this video with their own video in which they explain why the trademark on "Out for a rip" would be invalid. I wonder if Coca Cola has enough humor to do so, as it would bring a lot of new exposure to this rapper that's likely worth more than the trademark itself...
    Especially since Coca Cola is trading in sugar-water, not rap-songs. :-) It is a trademark issue after all and I don't think people would confuse black liquids with a white rapper.
    Ehm, wait... Maybe they will...

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


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