CafePress Takes Down T-Shirt Calling Donald Trump A Cheeto-Faced Shitgibbon, Saying It Violates Frito-Lay's Trademark
from the trademark-at-work dept
As you probably heard in the news, last week, Presidential candidate/reality TV star Donald Trump took a bit of a detour from the campaign trail last week to fly to Scotland to open his new golf course. That the timing of the trip coincided with the Brexit referendum for the UK to exit the EU was just the wacky icing on the bizarre global political cake we’re all now eating (bad metaphor apology). As you also probably heard, Trump talked about how wonderful the Brexit stuff was, and how much the people in Scotland must be thrilled, apparently missing the fact that Scotland, somewhat overwhelmingly, voted to stay in the EU. And because this is Scotland, and Scotland is awesome, folks there took to Twitter for a series of increasingly funny insults:
— Kevin Osborne (@skinoverbone) June 24, 2016
@realDonaldTrump we never got our country back, we wanted to remain, bolt ya hamster heedit bampot, away and boil yer napper
— Rosco (@TheCyberwolf85) June 24, 2016
There are a bunch more at the Quartz link, but a pretty good one came from @MetalOllie, also known as Hamfisted Bun Vendor, who is English, rather than Scottish, but got into the spirit quite well:
Scotland voted to stay & plan on a second referendum, you tiny fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon. https://t.co/iKyEIxf8ej
— Hamfisted Bun Vendor (@MetalOllie) June 24, 2016
As I write this, it has over 6,000 retweets and over 7,000 likes. Not bad. Based on all of this, Jay Lender, a writer/director for SpongeBob SquarePants, Phineas and Ferb… and also his own movie, They’re Watching, created an image in the style of Shepard Fairey’s famous (and legally disputed) Obama Hope poster.
After some discussion Jay and MetalOllie teamed up to put the image on t-shirts at CafePress. I have no idea if anyone was actually buying it, but earlier today Lender announced that CafePress had shut down the page for trademark infringement. Whose trademark? Frito-Lay’s, the makers of Cheetos, of course!
It’s not at all clear if Frito-Lay made this request or if it’s just CafePress worrying about future Frito-Lay concerns. Lender asked CafePress for clarification, and all they sent back was a link to Frito Lay’s corporate contact page, telling him to contact Frito Lay to ask for authorization, implying that Cafe Press made this decision on its own. But, really, there appears to be a ton of other merchandise hosted at CafePress that mentions Cheetos in some form or another, so if the company is suddenly concerned about trademark threats from Frito-Lay, it seems to be targeting rather selectively.
Lender pushed back on CafePress’s decision to take down the store, and received some rather ridiculous “suggestions” for replacement terms:
If you can’t read that, it says:
The use of “Cheeto” infringes on Frito Lays trademark. If would be different if you used “cheese puff” or “cheese-snack”-faced in your design.
You may forward your notice of authorization from Frito Lay, giving you permission to use “Cheeto” or “Cheetos” in connection with the sale of commercial merchandise to us via email….
Yes. Really. Nothing like having CafePress ruining your jokes for you with its bizarre interpretation of trademark law.
As we’ve discussed many times in the past, CafePress is frequently targeted by bogus takedowns concerning political speech and the company doesn’t exactly have the best record in dealing with such takedowns. But this seems just blatantly ridiculous on so many levels.
Either way, to argue that this is trademark infringing is crazy. No one is confusing the t-shirt or the image above as coming from Frito-Lay. I don’t care how much of a moron in a hurry you might be, there’s no consumer confusion here. For CafePress to declare absolutely that the use of Cheeto as an adjective here (not even as a noun!) is infringing on Frito-Lay’s trademark is just… wrong. Second, this is pretty clearly protected political speech — whether or not you agree with it or even think it’s funny. Yes, CafePress has a right as a private company to refuse to host any shirts it dislikes, but at the very least it should come out and say that’s why it’s shutting down the shirt, rather than hiding behind a bogus “trademark” claim from Frito-Lay.