from the er,-they're-saying-they're-not-virgin,-richard... dept
Forbes has an article about how lawyers representing Richard Brandson's Virgin property have sent a letter to "I Am Not A Virgin," a small jeans company in NYC, complaining about its attempt to register the trademark on its name in the US. The Forbes report falsely states that it's a copyright issue (seriously, don't people check these things?) and also seems to miss that the letter is about a planned opposition to a trademark registration. Peter Heron, I Am Not A Virgin's founder, put together an amusing video reading the letter and questioning Branson's claims:
My favorite bit is him asking if Branson thinks that people walking by "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" in the store are likely to be confused by it. In fact, you could argue that the likelihood of confusion (or dilution, since that's in play too) is extremely minimal here. Hell, the entire name of the company is claiming that it's not a "virgin," though I'd imagine that's a reference to the more common definition of the word, rather than Branson's widespread brand. Considering that one way companies often avoid tradmeark issues is to clearly state that they are "not affiliated" with a particular trademark, how much stronger of a not affiliated statement would Heron need than having the very brand claim it's not the other brand?
To be fair, the letter itself is much more on the friendly side of the spectrum, when it comes to legal nastygrams. It doesn't take a completely hardline stance, tries to express a common viewpoint (applauding the support for "the planet" and entrepreneurs), and even makes some (kinda silly) suggestions for alternate names ("I Am Not Chaste," "I Am Not Pure" -- to which Heron suggests "how about 'I Am Not Made By Richard Branson'). But, it doesn't go to Jack Daniels' level of friendliness, in making it clear that no change will lead the company to officially seek to have Heron's trademark (which he's had for 3.5 years) revoked by the USPTO.
It's also clear that Heron is milking this for all its worth as a marketing strategy (which is a pretty reasonable strategy, given the situation). But that raises more questions about why Virgin/Branson even went down this road in the first place. They had to know that they were just asking for a public shaming.