Monster Energy Loses Trademark Bid To Push Around Japanese Software Company

from the monster-loss dept

There must be something about using the word "monster" in one's business that turns that business into a true monster from a trademark bully perspective. Readers of this site will be familiar with the two largest offenders along these lines, Monster Cable and Monster Energy Corporation. It's the latter that has continued its prolific trademark bullying ways to date, as recently as earlier this year, when it threatened a root beer company with the word "beast" in its name, claiming that this was too close to "monster" for the purposes of trademark law.

Still, as laughable as that spat was, at least it could be said that Monster Energy was going after another beverage company. That isn't the case with Monster Energy's latest failed attempt to block the trademark for a video game company out of Japan.

United States energy drink manufacturer Monster Energy failed to block Japanese mobile-game producer Mixi Inc's move to register its trademark Monster Strike in Singapore for its popular mobile game. A trademark registrar held that Energy's bid to ring-fence the word "monster" for its own use was unjustified as both products operate in different business fields and the marks were more dissimilar than similar.

"Stripped of its legalese, this dispute is, at heart, about one trader's battle to fence off an ordinary English word - monster - for itself, and to exclude others," said assistant registrar of trade marks Gabriel Ong from the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore in decision grounds last month.

It's worth highlighting that the video game company, Mixi Inc., conducts business well outside the realm of the beverage industry. Monster Strike is a mobile game and Mixi Inc. is in the entertainment gaming business. In other words, far from any serious concern over customer confusion, Monster Energy was essentially asserting it could wall off any prominent use of the word "monster" by other, non-competing businesses. Few if any trademark laws in any country allow for this type of language lock, with most trademark provisions necessitating that the offending entity operate in a related industry to that doing the complaining.

Even the complaints about claw marks on some of Mixi's branding failed to persuade, it seems.

Mr Gabriel Ong found both marks to be more dissimilar than similar, noting that the second word in each differentiated the marks. He added that the marks were registered for types of goods that are unlikely to cause confusion among consumers.

There is also no risk of misperception of co-branding nor any likelihood of confusion as the public at large recognise Monster Energy drinks not by reference to the words but the accompanying trademarks above the words, including the "claw" graphics. "It is one thing to describe the goods as Monster Energy, but how they are marketed and sold is another matter," added Mr Gabriel Ong, noting that each can of the Monster Energy drink "invariably bears the claw device", although there were minor variations to each product range.

In a 48-page judgment, he found that the opposition by Monster Energy to Mixi Inc's application failed on all grounds and ordered costs for the game producer.

It's a good result, but one which begs the question: why does Monster Energy continuing wasting everybody's time and its own money with its bullying behavior?


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Oct 2017 @ 3:44pm

    It's a good result, but one which begs the question: why does Monster Energy continuing wasting everybody's time and its own money with its bullying behavior?

    It could be that part of the legal team's pay is in energy drinks, meaning they are always hyped up and raring to go/file lawsuits against everyone.

    That or the company hasn't realized yet that you do not just give your lawyers free reign unless you want them suing everyone they see.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2017 @ 3:52pm

      Re:

      Because the lawyers always win, even when they lose.

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

    • icon
      TKnarr (profile), 13 Oct 2017 @ 3:57pm

      Re:

      Well, there's no penalty for suing everyone in sight. The company lawyers' time costs the same whether they're working or not, and filing fees are trivial by comparison. It'll only stop when the various PTOs stop merely denying the challenge and start ordering the challenger to pay the winner's costs. That will show up as an actual cost in the financials, which is the only thing the MBAs running the companies pay attention to.

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

      • identicon
        christenson, 13 Oct 2017 @ 4:21pm

        Re: Re: Penalty

        You missed: there *is* a penalty THIS TIME.
        "failed on all grounds and ordered costs for the game producer".
        Hopefully Kirtsaeng continues to have an effect.

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

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 13 Oct 2017 @ 4:17pm

    I guess they thought they could make a quick buck...Guess they forgot about Monster Cable trying to do the EXACT same thing...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Cable

    In the 2000s, Monster had legal disputes over its trademarks with the Discovery Channel for its show Monster Garage.[13] Monster also had trademark disputes with Bally Gaming International over its slot machines, Monster Slots, with Hansen Beverage Co. for its Monster Energy drink, and the Chicago Bears, who use the nickname "Monsters of the Midway".[15] Other trademark disputes include a 2001[17] lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company for products related to the film Monsters, Inc.,[14] and a claim against an online used clothing retailer, MonsterVintage LLC.[14] In 2004, Monster filed a complaint about the trademark application from Snow Monsters, a video website with skiing content for kids. The Snow Monsters owner initiated a lawsuit against Monster pre-emptively.[13] It has also had a trademark dispute with the job site, Monster.com.[15]

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 13 Oct 2017 @ 6:29pm

    Now we know

    Monster Energy's Kung-fu is not stronger.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2017 @ 8:17pm

    Monster Cabalergy were just looking out for people

    They didn't want anyone else to receive the trademark of the thunder beast

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2017 @ 8:57pm

    Has Monster Energy seen Japan's popular culture? Monster Rancher, Pocket Monsters, Digital Monsters, and don't get me started on their kaijus.

    You might say the American company... created a monster.

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

  • icon
    slap (profile), 13 Oct 2017 @ 11:14pm

    Monster trail mix

    I'm surprised that Monster Energy hasn't gone after ADM for their Monster Trail Mix - after all, it's closer product than a video game.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2017 @ 9:01am

    Let's dance and celebrate!
    I say we do the mash... the MONSTER MASH!!!

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

  • icon
    Wolfie0827 (profile), 14 Oct 2017 @ 11:02am

    Why...

    ... or maybe they are just Monstrously Moronic!

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Oct 2017 @ 1:06pm

    Holy hell, they didn't invent claw marks either.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2017 @ 2:15pm

    Why do they waste their time?

    Because they're hyped up on their dangerous, toxic, heart-attack inducing addictive drug themselves and can't sit still for more than 5 minutes without having a seizure?

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


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