Notably, they had a blue house with a blue window. Blue was the color of all that they wore.
No, Klondike didn't succeed in trademarking one-sixth of the rainbow. Blue was ruled to be a "functional color" for frozen food, in that it implied "cold" to consumers. In other words, Klondike simply made the connection that millions before it have made between blue and cold. As it turns out, there are certain things people won't do for a Klondike Bar, including letting them stake a claim on a large chunk of the visible light spectrum. Nevertheless, Klondike came out on top, because nobody has ever heard of Polar B'ars to this day.
Monster Cable Claims to Have Invented Monsters
As we've previously discussed, Monster Cable is a company notorious for charging hundreds of dollars for HDMI cables that are, by definition, no better than a $2 piece of copper scraped off the floor of Newegg's warehouse. So the question is, how do they keep people shelling out for their products? The answer, of course, is the same way certain wineries get consumers to spend $300 on a bottle of wine that tastes exactly the same as a $3 bottle of Thunderbird: with mountains upon mountains of marketing bullshit, making sure you know and remember their brand name.
Marketers create value from nothing. They're the true producers among us.
Unfortunately for Monster, they managed to pick one of the most obvious, overused brand names ever. They were far from the first (or last) business to recognize that the word "Monster" sounded totally badass, at least to people with tiny imaginations -- which made things hard for them when they moved to permanently sear their name into the public's consciousness. And by that we mean Monster moved to sue every other business that ever used the name "Monster." Among them:
- Monster Energy Drinks
- Monster Mini Golf
- Monster Transmission, an auto garage in Florida
- The Discovery Channel (for airing a show called Monster Garage )
- The Chicago Bears (for going by the nickname "Monsters of the Midway")
- Fenway Park (for having "Monster Seats")
- Bally Gaming (for selling "Monster Slots" machines)
And the icing on the cake was their attempt to go after the Walt Disney Company. Why? For making the movie Monsters, Inc. All together, there have been almost 200 legal battles.
Nowhere as awesome as the "200 monster battles" we'd hoped for.
The funny thing about trademarks is that they're market-specific. If you sell cables and trademark your brand name, that only means no other cable companies can use it. It doesn't mean nobody else can ever use it to describe anything. That's the good news.
The bad news, for the people being sued, anyway, is that when you can sell $2 worth of copper for $100, you have a lot of money to afford an army of lawyers. While Monster has rarely won the lawsuits it's filed, it's cost its opponents enormous amounts in legal fees and wasted countless hours of court time.
Not surprisingly, though, after meeting with Disney's even bigger army of lawyers, Monster sheepishly declared that there had been "no trademark infringement." Go figure.
Luke T. Harrington blogs at the Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism and tweets over at the Twittersphere.
Related Reading: Hypocrisy and copyright law go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Just ask the man who sponsored SOPA and stole someone else's photos for his website. Of course, copyright lunacy extends well beyond the Internet -- the NFL sues basically everybody who uses the name "Super Bowl" without permission. The law is a harsh mistress. That fact will be driven home even harder by reading these horrific end-user license agreements you've already accepted.