Honda Sued For Trademark Infringement For Suggesting It Wants To Save The Earth

from the okay,-don't-save-the-earth dept

Be careful suggesting that you want to “save the earth.” Automaker Honda just did that in an ad with a guy wearing a “save the earth” t-shirt, and for doing so, it got slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit from the Save the Earth Foundation, which apparently has a trademark on that phrase (and has had it since 1972). The foundation claims that the ad was implying endorsement by the foundation. I wonder if morons in a hurry have any interest in saving the earth.

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Companies: honda, save the earth foundation

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Comments on “Honda Sued For Trademark Infringement For Suggesting It Wants To Save The Earth”

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Bought vs drew the shirts?

I assume Honda didn’t actually buy t-shirts with the slogan on them, but actually drew them in their video editing program or whatever. Would it make a difference if they had purchased a bunch of shirts and used them in the ads? Would that shift the liability to any t-shirt vendor who used the slogan without a license? Honda probably still has the deepest pockets, though.

Re: Bought vs drew the shirts?

“I assume Honda didn’t actually buy t-shirts with the slogan on them, but actually drew them in their video editing program or whatever.”

Why would you assume that?

This is the new world of trademark litigation, where you can shut down anything in which your trademark appears. Documentary film makers have been dealing with this headache for years.


Although something as generic as “save the Earth” as a trademark is inane, why didn’t they just say “save the planet”? Or has that been trademarked, too? How about: “save the 3rd generally large object in current orbit around our sun”?

It’s amusing that nobody is allowed to save the Earth now unless they are authorized.


We should think about it more charitably

Save the earth is a good and right cause. We should have tolerance and perhaps think a little more charitably in cases like this. Honda is just using the saying to make money, Save the Earth is trying to accomplish something good and noble. We MUST err on the side of good causes not large corporations if this world is to survive.


Re: We should think about it more charitably

Ok, assuming your serious, how does litigating a ridiculous trademark infringement (and its been show many times that these lawsuits aren’t even legal in many cases, although this one MAY have some “merit” (it makes me sick to even use the term here) further that “good and noble” cause? Sounds like another money grab to me. Seems like the good and noble thing to do would have been to let Honda alone. The ad might have been seen by millions of people with the guy’s t-shirt right square in the middle of it all. Now its just an ugly footnote in legal history and makes Save the Earth look like another greedy corp. Some times the litigator needs to err on the side of good.

John Spielmansays:

Re: We should think about it more charitably

Umm, yeah…Save the Earth Foundation is trying to accomplish something good.
That’s why they’re concerned about an ad using the phrase “save the earth”?
If they gave a crap about saving the earth, they wouldn’t give a crap about an ad that suggests people “save the earth.”


trademark holders are required to defend it or lose it

Honda is not as harmful to life on Earth as Monsanto or Chevron, but they are all large corporations that advertise how green they are.

If Save The Earth Foundation didn’t protect their trademark they could lose the right to control the trademark. Consider the reasons Save the Earth might have to protect that trademark:

First, the legal requirement to take action if another company uses your trademark to promote themselves. It causes confusion, which is one of the basic tenets of trademark law. (Does Save The Earth endorse Honda? Is Honda partnering with Save The Earth to do good?

Next is monetary value of the trademark. It costs money to get and maintain a trademark, and Save The Earth has had their trademark since 1972. Trademarks gain value over time (Coke’s is worth billions). Trademark infringement is basically theft – of intellectual property.

Trademark holders can license their image. Honda can afford to pay a license fee. My question would be, did they offer to pay a licensing fee and were turned down by Save The Earth (who surely spent more time on the question than you and me). Or did Honda blow off the little environmental organization and not pay a fair licensing fee? Or did the ad agency throw the phrase on there without researching it, and Honda’s PR people missed it too?

Honda is doing a lot to develop fuel-efficient cars. At the same time, someone needs to hold the greenwashing corporations accountable. A trademark on Save The Earth is one way to do that. Check out for their a Greenwasher of the Month.


Honda Infringed on Save The Earth

Of course Save the Earth (STE) foundation sued. It does imply an endorsement by them. It would be seen more clearly if a less attractive and popular company was using their (STE) trademark. For example, if a Japanese dolphin-killing company or a baby-seal hunter group were to advertise using a t-shirt with STE on the actors in the commercial. Automobile ARE one of the main polluters on earth. It is their (STE) right, whether you agree with their decision or not, to choose which products they endorse. It is not a frivolous lawsuit. I’m surprised I keep seeing so many right-wing types on tech sites.

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