There is a brand new exposer of potential intellectual property violations on the scene, meet LogoThief:

“We exist to name and shame logo thieves and all others who plagiarise the work of logo designers.”

Here is what prompted the start of the website just last week: “We started this website because we are sick of seeing our own work and the work of our peers ripped off by unscrupulous designers in an effort to make a quick buck.”

Here is their concept and the ask: “If you know of any logo thieves out there help us to name and shame them by letting us know as much as you know and we will document the case and share it with the world. Hopefully by documenting each case in a public place we can make it less attractive for these thieves to steal others work.”

Here is a pretty compelling story and an excellent example of what can be found on LogoThief:

I’m not sure what goods or services are offerred under the LUUCA logo, but given the striking similarity of the original and the logo copy, I’m left wondering if there are some logo sellers (note, I didn’t use the word creators or designers) who think if the offered goods/services are different from those of the original there is no intellectual property claim?

 

If so, they have not only ignored or forgotten about the existence of trademark dilution claims for famous logos, but even more importantly, what about copyright?

Even if an admission could not be obtained as to Wellness Travel copying the LUUCA logo, there is little doubt in my mind the Wellness Travel logo is strikingly similar, and when there is access to the original, striking similarity is sufficient to establish copyright infringement.

It will be interesting to watch the LogoThief website develop over time. I suspect it will be closely monitored by trademark and other intellectual property types.

The professional and public shaming, appears to be bringing prompt results, here is the Wellness Travel Global logo (related?) only a week after the LogoThief exposure:

Bravo, LogoThief!

Fame tends to attract attention, and imitation, especially unwanted imitation from, well, even pests. The Google trademark appears to have obtained such a high degree of fame that no third party can include the word “Google” in its mark without having a problem, regardless of what the third party happens to be selling. Ron, can you say, right in gross?

A couple of weeks ago, the USPTO refused registration of GOOGLE UNIVERSITY for college consulting services and in doing so, it not only relied on likelihood of confusion under Section 2(d) of the Lanham Act, as a substantive basis for refusal, but it also relied on Section 2(a) of the Lanham and the false connection prohibition (a clever way to avoid the fact that Examining Attorneys at the USPTO cannot rely on dilution of a famous mark under Section 43(c) for ex parte registration refusals):

“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may falsely suggest a connection with Google, Inc.  Although Google is not connected with the services provided by applicant under the applied-for mark, Google is so famous that consumers would presume a connection (please note the attachment from About.com, which refers to Google as one of the top 5 most popular websites in  the world).”

Indeed, the only third party marks — arguably containing the Google mark — that have achieved federal registration are those consisting of or comprising the plural form of the word (apparently creating a distinct commercial impression from GOOGLE): GOOGLES for pet toys, children’s books, plush toys, fireworks, conducting theme parties, cookies, and protective eye and face shields for dental offices. OK, there is one exception, but it’s understandable: Barney Google and Snuffy Smith for a cartoon series.

Yet — given the appearance of the above depicted Bugaboo Pest Control logo that clearly refrains from using the word “Google” — in copying the distinctive and widely recognized lettering style and colors of the Google logo, one might ask a related “right in gross” question, namely: Is the non-verbal visual impression of the Google logo so well-known and famous, that it may not be replicated by others, regardless of the words infiltrating this particular appearance and style.

Perhaps something can be learned from the breadth and wide scope of protection afforded the famous Coca-Cola script trademark against another’s poster depicting the words “Enjoy Cocaine” using the same color and distinctive lettering style, where the court noted in 1972:

“One would have to be a visitor from another planet not to recognize immediately the familiar ‘Cola’ in its stylized script and accompanying words, color and design.”

And, to that point, what sort of planet might house living organisms unfamiliar with colors and style of the Google logo, and what sort of pesticide might Google be tempted to unleash on this most recent trademark bugaboo?

So, last Friday we covered this story: Critics Flush New University of California Logo.

Now, we can report that the next morning, the Los Angeles Times wrote this story: Maligned UC Logo Shelved; “Time to Move On,” Officials Say.

Putting aside any possible questions about cause and effect, is there a difference between flushing a logo and shelving it, just wondering?

In any event, stay tuned, one of our distinguished guest bloggers — Debbie Laskey — will address the social media aspects of this decision after the New Year.

It is not a secret (recipe or otherwise) that Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC to more easily (through truncation in branding) communicate an expanded menu and a healthier approach to fast food. We’ve even wondered whether KFC eventually may bow to an image of the Colonel with no words, as a non-verbal logo, as so many others have done with non-verbal branding.

Last year, it was reported in the U.K. that KFC tossed out its more than fifty year old (likely famous) Finger Lickin’ Good slogan in favor of a blander, but healthier version: So good. So, I never noticed that slogan in the U.S. market, but now I see through USPTO records that sogood (yes, all lower case type) was rolled out around 2010 in the U.S., and the Today Tastes So Good slogan followed just last year.

This most recent KFC logo, which is the subject of a federal intent-to-use trademark application, has now been approved by the USPTO, with a Notice of Allowance issuing just last week, so perhaps we’ll start to see it rolled out into the U.S. marketplace in the near future.

Based on trademark filings at the USPTO, it appears that a couple of very old It’s Finger Lickin’ Good registrations from the 1960s expired in the 2005-06 time period for failure to renew them (here and here), but then new registrations were obtained in 2007 for It’s Finger Lickin’ Good (here and here).

What do you think of the FLG truncation? Is this a step toward dropping the slogan altogether here in the U.S.? Will consumers bond to it as they did for decades with Finger Lickin’ Good, or will they fill in the blanks in other ways, especially when they aren’t feeling the love of the brand, perhaps something like: Feelin’ Less Genuine?