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?