Gene Weingarten Shows How To Respond To Bogus Trademark Threats: Stetson(R) Hats Suck
from the nicely done, sir dept
One of the lines in Techdirt’s style guide (yes, we have a style guide, even if we’re not always good at following it) is that we never, ever, post the little registered trademark sign: ® with a company or product name. If you follow business reporting, you will see that show up from time to time. Companies love to use that little symbol in press releases and such even though they don’t need to. But, where it gets really silly and ridiculous is when they insist others must do so too. JJ sends an example of a company doing this to humor columnist Gene Weingarten, and his rather simple response. The company in question was Stetson, of the hats by that name, and Weingarten had made an offhand comment in a previous column about how readers who wanted to feel more American could “put on a Stetson.” Stetson’s COO then chose to demand that Weingarten post a correction and in the future use “Stetson®” when referring to the brand. Weingarten’s reply was straightforward and simple:
The correction you are seeking, and which I now solemnly herewith deliver under the implied threat of a trademark-infringement lawsuit, is that “Stetson” is the name of your company and not a generic term for a hat. You further demand that all future references to “Stetson” contain a little R in a circle, like this: Stetson®. Okay. Done, and done.
Stetson® hats suck.
He then goes on to point out just how silly all of this is, before then clearing up any confusion:
I would like to clear up one misconception, though: I was not, as your letter suggests, using the word Stetson® as a synonym for “hat.” I was using it as a synonym for “doofusy cowboy hat” of the sort that has made the Stetson® company famous, and that can in an instant, on any city street, transform any ordinary man into a pretentious, truly comical-looking weenis®. I made up that word just now, and therefore own it, and therefore am requiring an ® sign whenever it is used.
Now that’s one way to respond to a bogus trademark claim.