Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations

from the meowsers dept

A couple of weeks back, we discussed the story of Caterpillar Inc., famous manufacturers of tractor equipment, deciding to bully Cat & Cloud Coffee, makers of you'll-never-guess-what, all because the former had long ago trademarked "CAT" as a truncated brand. At issue specifically is Cat & Cloud's use of the word "cat" on clothing and merchandise it sells, with Caterpillar claiming there is the potential for public confusion with its own clothing and merch lines. This is, of course, plainly ridiculous. There is no overlap in the branding and nobody is going to confuse the tractor folks with the coffee folks.

Others pointed out that there are tons of other companies out there that sell apparel and/or merch while holding trademarks that incorporate the word "cat." If those other companies are allowed to exist, why not Cat & Cloud? Caterpillar Inc. heard you dear friends, but its response is probably not the one you were hoping for.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Cat & Cloud is among 174 registered trademarks including the word "cat". Caterpillar has filed 125 cancellation petitions so far including one to internet sensation Keyboard Cat. You may have been one of the 150-million viewers of the viral video of a feline, clad in a blue shirt, playing the piano.

Charlie Schmidt, Creator of Keyboard Cat and www.keyboardcat.com spoke to us about his ordeal.

"I'm just a poor artist trying to you know, maintain my integrity! Who wants to hurt a tractor company just by having a cat!?"

So, yeah, Caterpillar has expanded its trademark bullying out to encompass more small businesses. It is again defending its actions by saying they are only targeted for apparel trademarks, but that still isn't good enough. It's virtually impossible to believe that all 125 trademarks for the apparel in question comprise uses that would actually cause any real public confusion. Instead, this is obviously a corporate legal team pulling out the legal shotgun and just spraying buckshot everywhere it can.

For Cat & Cloud, at least, its story is getting some public attention.

Customers including tech titan Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist for Apple and current Chief Evangelist for Canva, is getting behind the café, leveraging his millions of online followers to join the effort.

"Sometimes you have to stand up for something. For the principal of it. And this is one of those times."

Actress Sophia Bush has also weighed in on Instagram to help Cat & Cloud.

Now we just have to marshal forces for the hundred-plus other victims of Caterpillar's bullying, I suppose.

Filed Under: cat, cats, charlie schmidt, keyboard cat, trademark, trademark bullying
Companies: cat & cloud, caterpillar


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Jun 2019 @ 6:12pm

    The consternation of confusion

    If the cat is in the bag, then the caterpillar got eaten, or became it's toy.

    How the trademark thing works out will depend upon whether the USPTO can discern the difference between a company that makes large machines and others who happen for what is likely a large variety of reasons, use the word cat in their trademarks. Since the basis for trademark is consumer confusion one must wonder how the USPTO might go about determining if a 'cat' company is confused over whether they are buying a tractor or a cup of coffee.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 3:40am

      Re: The consternation of confusion

      Come now, nobody is saying anyone is confused over whether they're buying a tractor or a cup of coffee. The confusion would be over whether they're buying a shirt from Caterpillar or a shirt from one of hundreds of other sources.

      Which is still ridiculous. I don't think any company should be able to prevent other companies from using the word "cat" on a shirt, even if both were apparel companies, so long as they aren't using the actual logo.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re: The consternation of confusion

        Cat is most definitely a feline and known worldwide not for short name of caterpillar. You assholes at caterpillar are all fucked up. I hope the tradename CAT gets revoked for OBVIOUS REASON.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 11:18am

          Re: Re: Re: The consternation of confusion

          I watched in horror as a friend of mine and his dad got crushed in a d9 caterpillar bulldozer when an overhanging rock ledge fell off the side of the mountain they were working on in Alaska. I think if it had been a "CAT" it would have jumped out of the way before it got crushed.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:22am

      Re: The consternation of confusion

      Someone needs to start a company that sells cat apparel, and then sue to get Caterpillar's trademark removed from apparel use, as it's not their primary business, "Cat" has very little to do with the company's actual name, and it is harming the cat apparel industry.

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

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 22 Jun 2019 @ 5:43am

      Re: The ConsternATion of confusion

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 20 Jun 2019 @ 7:50pm

    Look, billable hours!

    And this is what happens when you've got a pack of lawyers sitting on their asses and someone in the company paying them asks the dreaded question, 'Why are we paying you again?'

    Caterpillar has filed 125 cancellation petitions so far including one to internet sensation Keyboard Cat.

    Oh yeah, I can't see that leading to a public relations nightmare, I mean what could possibly go wrong going after a well known meme involving a cat?

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Jun 2019 @ 10:55pm

      Re: Look, billable hours!

      The cat came back the very next day it was sitting on the porch...

      Teh Interwebs powered by cat memes... someone drop a link to caterpillar doing this over on 8chan & wait for the catasstrophy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 5:10am

      Re: Look, billable hours!

      Oh yeah, I can't see that leading to a public relations nightmare

      Maybe they're looking for a distraction from their PR nightmare over the right to repair...

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:23am

      Re: Look, billable hours!

      Of course, now the PR department is going "Holy shit! Why are you paying these turkeys?"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2019 @ 8:06pm

    Next up, Caterpillar Inc. moves to sue Pokemon for having several caterpillar-based creatures, as well as Eric Carle for his work, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:45am

      Re:

      as well as Eric Carle for his work, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

      Wait, you mean that book isn't about an anthropomorphic bulldozer with an insatiable appetite??

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Jun 2019 @ 8:11pm

    The next NYT Bestseller:

    Of Cats and Caterpillars: How to Destroy a Corporate Reputation, written by the (soon-to-be) former legal team of Caterpillar Inc.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2019 @ 8:14pm

    I shudder to think what will happen if Caterpillar goes after Grumpy Cat memes and either chan site finds out.

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

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 20 Jun 2019 @ 9:03pm

    MindBlown.gif

    I never thought I would see it. I mean, its absolutely bonkers, right? Inconceivable really! I never once believed I would see the day when a large corporation took it upon THEMSELVES to prove their own Trademark was too generic! Well, as the meme goes... "That's a bold move Cotton, let's see if it pays off!"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2019 @ 9:06pm

    Right...

    Perhaps someone can take a moment and explain to Guy Kawasaki what "principal" actually means.

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

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 20 Jun 2019 @ 9:21pm

    I'm sure there is no way this will backfire. After all, the internet is famously indifferent to everything that includes cats.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 20 Jun 2019 @ 10:36pm

    Boycott Caterpillar

    Fuck Caterpillar and the tractor they rode in on. What assholes.

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

  • identicon
    David, 20 Jun 2019 @ 11:48pm

    CAT got your tongue?

    You don't say. Because it could be expensive.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 12:19am

    "Sometimes you have to stand up for something. For the principal of it. And this is one of those times."

    And that principle is... correct spelling?

    Sorry, I'm off to binge-watch videos of cute, fluffy earthworks equipment.

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

  • identicon
    MathFox, 21 Jun 2019 @ 2:15am

    When does Caterpillar start to tear out the CAT4, CAT5 and CAT6 cabling in their head-office?

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

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 5:53am

    I work for a competitor of CAT (the heavy equipment maker) and we have our own line of clothing, only we don't really market it. CAT has the issue of, trying to have too many things to focus on.

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

    • identicon
      jean, 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:50am

      Re: Cat competitor

      I work doing heavy machinery construction and earth moving, and I would have to say simply this; CAT SUCKS....the controls are backwards!!! I don't know the whole story of cats control scheme but from what I know, they copied existing machine designs, then changed the controls slightly so they could enforce patenting and trademark bs more rigorously. Fun fact, if you learn cat controls, you are vendor locked to cat unless you unlearn it and relearn standard controls? With standard controls/backhoe, you can run multiple machine types without your brain melting, so the next time some smug union worker gives you sh*t about not running cat controls, just ask them to run a backhoe; face goes pale and sweat beads on their forehead. 'ermm uhh umm I wont stoop to that level..." yea right

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      'I work for a competitor of CAT (the heavy equipment maker)..

      Oh, you work for THEM!

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

  • identicon
    DNY, 21 Jun 2019 @ 6:23am

    Bullies only pick on smaller folks

    I see no mention in the article of Caterpillar going after Target for having a line of children's clothing sold under the Cat and Jack brand.

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

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:29am

      Re: Bullies only pick on smaller folks

      Are they going after the Dr. Seuss estate for Cat in the Hat clothing? Now THAT would really piss off people.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 4:50pm

        Re: Re: Bullies only pick on smaller folks

        Maybe Yellow Cab should go after CAT for its yellow paint and force CAT to go with a Tuxedo or tiger stripe paint pattern or maybe just Pink with a white furry seat!

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2019 @ 3:41am

          Re: Re: Re: Bullies only pick on smaller folks

          The state of California bullies won't allow the sale of 'school bus yellow' paint for other than a school bus, i had to go with John Deere....
          Also, UPS has a trademark on brown, T-mobile on RAL 4010, and black&blue was tightly managed in Jr. High.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 6:33am

    A kitty cat and a caterpillar are two different animals; one's feline and the other is just an annoying bug. Do they really need an entomologist to explain this?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 5:08pm

      Re:

      Monarch butterflies are truly amazing going through seven different stages as caterpillars before growing wings. You show me a steel caterpillar with wings painted yellow that flys and that will also be amazing!

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

  • identicon
    AgonizingFury, 21 Jun 2019 @ 7:10am

    I don't know why everyone is upset about this. This could be very serious business.

    I drive a caterpillar Hi-Lo for work. Imagine how badly I could be injured if I tried to pick up a 2000 pound pallet with my coffee cup because I was confused by confusing branding!

    Please stop hating on caterpillar for trying to ensure that the users of their products are fully informed of exactly what they are using and keeping them safe.

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

    • identicon
      Pixelation, 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:18am

      Re:

      "Please stop hating on caterpillar for trying to ensure that the users of their products are fully informed of exactly what they are using and keeping them safe."

      I'm still trying to figure out where to put the gas in my cat. Soo confused!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re:

        I would wager that the cat is even more confused than you are. On the upside, the cat probably isn't just sitting there on the lawn. (Be careful not to get sued by Confuse-a-Cat Ltd.)

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

      • identicon
        OGquaker, 23 Jun 2019 @ 3:51am

        Re: Re:

        My Cat D3 had a little pony engine (gas) to start the main engine (diesel).
        So stick it in the front end; 90% of the gas comes out the front end of the cow anyway.

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

    • identicon
      Bobvious, 22 Jun 2019 @ 5:37am

      Re:

      Imagine how badly I could be injured

      Yep. That would be CATastrophic!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 8:33am

    Schrödinger's Caterpillar?

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

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 21 Jun 2019 @ 9:41am

    Caterpillar should stop being pussies.

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 21 Jun 2019 @ 10:25am

    Class action for TM abuse?

    Seems to me 125 TM holders ought to be filing petitions as a class to cancel the Crapterpillar TM for abuse thereof.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jun 2019 @ 2:41pm

    You're going after the wrong target!

    The correct target should be the Catepillar "Cat" trademark.

    After all, we ...

    ... hold that thought, there's a red dot on the carpet that must die!

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 21 Jun 2019 @ 4:06pm

    It seems psychotic to me that Caterpillar thinks their CAT (not "Cat" or "cat") logo has anything to do with cats. Is this a nuisance tactic for the purpose of advertising (and they just don't mind looking really stupid... or maybe they're used to that**)?

    **Unfortunately, the USPTO has proven itself pretty stupid in the past, so there's some possibility that they'll get what they want.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2019 @ 6:38am

    lolcats

    I'm so confused ... why would a huge corporation come into my house and knock everything off the countertops?

    Perhaps the public could shame corporations like they do to their pets.

    Post pictures of the offending product along with a sign that says Bad Boy, Big Mess!

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

    • identicon
      OGquaker, 23 Jun 2019 @ 4:19am

      Re:

      "Why would a huge corporation come into my house and knock everything off the countertops?"
      four gorgeous homes have been turned into dirt lots
      -In This City Block-
      since January 1st, a Caterpillar demolition excavator has been shaking all the glassware off the shelves for weeks preparing to put up 4-6 units where each of my neighbors homes were.
      You see, under the Cheeto's tax giveaway, any Real Estate LLC that "improves" a parcel or business more than 50% within 8,700 'Opportunity Zones' pays NO income/capital gains tax for ten years. The 1% are plowing us under, after they handcuff us and throw us into the patrol car. Why? We pay 1976 property tax to live here......

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

  • icon
    nerdrage (profile), 22 Jun 2019 @ 12:58pm

    you're banned from the bedroom!

    I'm suing Caterpillar for repeatedly peeing on my bed. What's up with that?

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


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