Time spent with my boys in Omaha at the College World Series is hard to beat. Although, last year, Father’s Day weekend was hard to beat too. And, the archives indicate five years ago was pretty wonderful as well. Basically, it’s all good.
On this particular road trip, we were fortunate to score tickets to the Thursday night game between TCU and LSU, a great game. We also scored better and even cheaper tickets right behind the Florida Gators’ dugout for their last two games against Virginia, unfortunately for the Gators they fell to the Cavaliers on Saturday night, in a very close game, 5-4.
One of the benefits of our close vantage point behind the dugout was to see the players’ methodical preparation before heading to the plate for each at bat. I’ll have to admit, it was hard not to wear my trademark helmet from this vantage point. Besides the different and unique, but consistent and repetitive metaphorical trademark style of each batter, there was a very visually striking and unique bat weight being used by some of the Gators batters that caught my eye.
Convinced the brand name on the bat weight appeared to be YARD, I thought to myself “what a great suggestive mark,” but to my dismay, between-inning research on my iPhone revealed the brand to be VARO, not YARD:
Given the stylization of the VARO brand name, can you offer me at least a modicum of sympathy in mistaking VARO for YARD? Clearly my vision would never qualify me to be an umpire, and when typed, I fully admit these are clearly distinguishable words, but can you agree that from a little distance the thick all cap V could be mistaken for a Y and the chunky O could look a lot like a D?
One mental clue that may have lead my eyes down the Y and D path, instead of the V and O path, is that VARO means nothing to me (turns out it too is a great suggestive name, a foreign term translating to LAUNCH — something every batter would like to do to the baseball). The other more persuasive mental clue leading my eyes to read YARD — without thinking too hard — is the well-known slang phrase GOING YARD meaning to hit a home run. The context of baseball certainly helped my eyes see YARD, not VARO.
Seemed like a great trademark story to write about when it was just about YARD, but after digging a little deeper and discovering the VARO connection, I’m thinking this post went from a single or double to going yard itself. But, I won’t ask if you agree.
At least for me, one of the takeaways is the need to take the chosen stylization into account when searching word marks — we’ve talked about this before. Although I haven’t been able to locate any problematic YARD hits on the USPTO website, without considering stylization and the word’s visual impression, I’m doubting that any hits for YARD would have resulted during VARO trademark searches and due diligence.
Another takeaway to ponder is what might be a reasonable scope of rights surrounding the particular trademark stylization used? In other words, could trademark rights in the VARO stylization shown above extend to prevent another’s use of YARD on competitive products?
If so, what is the likely success with a switch-hitter hypothetical and scenario? That is, what if the original brand was, in fact, YARD, and the newcomer in direct competition launched VARO as the competing brand with the above script, same result?
On another personal branding note, when he’s able, perhaps Gator lead off hitter and left-fielder Harrison Bader would be a perfect spokesman for the VARO brand, going YARD twice at the 2015 CWS, no doubt thanks to his warmup swings with the VARO Arc batting weight: