There is no question that attempting to own “hot” or versions of “hot” appears to have great value and importance in the marketing world. So, how many original, unique, and memorable ways are there to communicate spicy “hot” anyway?
As to memorable, perhaps painfully memorable, Paris Hilton apparently sells designer clothes under her “That’s Hot” brand, and judging from her pending federal trademark filings, she still has an intention of expanding her “That’s Hot” brand to cell phones and alcoholic beverages, among other items, but apparently not buffalo chicken wing sauce or potato chips, thankfully.
Otherwise, it really might distract from a recent pair of trademark food fights in Minneapolis, both involving chips claiming to be “hot” too. You may recall the “Red Hot” Chip Fight between Barrel O’Fun and Old Vienna discussed here, that was quickly bagged here.
So, here are the current contenders in the most recent “Blazin’ Hot” trademark food fight:
The most interesting aspect of the complaint, from a trademark strategy perspective, is the fact that Buffalo Wild Wings did not bring a claim for infringement of a federally-registered trademark (Section 32 of the Lanham Act). Instead, it only relies on Section 43 of the Lanham Act (designed to protect unregistered trademarks) and a pair of Minnesota state law causes of action, even though it refers to owning some federal trademark and service mark registrations for and containing the term BLAZIN’. Perhaps Buffalo Wild Wings is attempting to insulate them from attack or challenge by P&G, since none is five years old yet or incontestable. Stay tuned to learn whether P&G turns up the heat on this dispute and counterclaims for cancellation anyway.
Now, as to the “original and unique” point raised above, it is worth asking, who else appears to have a stake in “Blazin” hot trademarks for food products? Uh, let’s just say, more than a few . . . .
Sara Lee owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ HOT covering processed meats and meat snacks, and sandwiches, namely sausage biscuits;
Frito-Lay owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ BUFFALO & RANCH covering tortilla chips;
Pilgrim’s Pride owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ WINGS covering chicken wings;
Jardine’s owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ SADDLE covering hot (spicy) salsa;
International Market Brands owns a federal registration for BLAZIN RED covering red hot sauces;
Meijer owns a federal registration for MEIJER BLAZIN’ BBQ SAUCE covering barbecue sauce;
Hot Stuff Foods owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ covering dry spice mix;
Jarden owns a federal registration for BLAZIN’ ONION covering a seasoning kit;
Oasis Foods owns a federal registration for GRILL BLAZIN’ covering barbecue sauce; and
Branding Iron Foods owns a federal registration for E.Z. EARL’S BLAZIN-HOT covering hot sauce.
So, how is it that in the prayer for relief in the complaint, Buffalo Wild Wings asks the court to enjoin P&G “from using the term BLAZIN’ with the words ‘buffalo,’ ‘wing,’ or ‘sauce’?
OK, I’m not THINKIN’ ARBY’S, but I AM THINKIN’ the scope of claimed rights in BLAZIN’ is going to be an issue in this case.