To the extent you’re also all about brands and trademarks, and you imagine a trademark story with each brand you might encounter, I suppose there are an infinite number of ways, right?

One of the Peace Coffee shops in our office building offers K’UL chocolate, and the point of sale display caught my eye, so I snapped this cool pic, to engage in a little trademark storytelling:



K’UL Chocolate appears to be a new brand, founded in Minneapolis, so that’s also pretty cool. Actually, even more than cool today, since it’s been downright frigid here the last few days!

So, as I suspected, the brand name is intended to be pronounced the same as “cool” — and it has an interesting and creative origin, according to the company’s website:

“We create great tasting, good for you, functional chocolate and energy bars with the finest all natural ingredients. The name, K’ul (pronounced cool), comes from the Mayan word for energy, which is what our bars provide you with – the ability to do more and do it better.”

A review of the USPTO’s file history for the K’UL trademark application for nutritional supplement energy bars and cocoa based energy bars is as surprisingly simple as the product’s ingredient listings. The only issue that the USPTO flagged related to the description of goods; no mere descriptiveness refusal based on foreign equivalency (Mayan languages apparently aren’t dead); and no likelihood of confusion refusals, despite these other phonetically similar federally-registered marks for similar goods (so, perhaps a crowded field with narrow individual rights):

  1. KÜL FUEL for sports drinks;
  2. COOL MINT CHOCOLATE for grain-based ready to eat energy bars (MINT CHOCOLATE disclaimed);
  3. COOL ENERGY for nutritional supplements for boosting energy;
  4. COOL RUNNINGS for energy drinks;
  5. COOL CONFIDENCE for energy mints; and
  6. ICE COOL for energy drinks.

I’m thinking K’ul Chocolate probably thought it was pretty cool the USPTO’s assigned examining attorney didn’t gum up the chocolate with arguments like these that prevented registration (just last year) of KÜL HANDBAGS for fashion handbags, based on the prior registered mark for COOL HANDBAGS (stylized) in connection with backpacks, beach bags; book bags; and gym bags:

“Applicant’s mark and the registered mark are similar in sound, appearance, and commercial impression. In this case, the marks contain terms that look and sound similar. KÜL and COOL look similar because the terms seem to suggest the same word – “cool”. The marks also sound the same, as the KÜL is pronounced the same as “cool”. Thus this term and COOL paired with the term “Handbags” as the main components of the marks. The commercial impression created by the marks is also similar in that the combination of terms immediately names the type of goods identified, as well as suggesting a quality of the goods. Consumers would experience confusion when speaking about or observing the marks based upon the similarities detailed above.”

KULHandbagLet’s just say, it would be even cooler for K’ul Chocolate, if the other COOL energy food and beverage brands were to view their rights narrowly, and chill on raising any objections as well.

Perhaps there’s an added intentional and subliminal benefit of K’ul Chocolate being for sale in the ever-so-tranquil Peace Coffee shops?

Suppose you’re a brand manager or trademark counsel for one of the previous COOL brands, would you chill or start to melt down, and why?