Doobie Brothers Vs. The Doobie Decimal System In Trademark Battle

from the is-everyone-high? dept

You just can't have a little clever fun anymore. With all the hoops cover bands have to jump through just to ply their craft, I had never really considered that one cover band might get into a trademark scuffle over the band's name. Yet, that's exactly what has happened to the Doobie Decimal System, a cover band now being sued by The Doobie Brothers, who claim that the band's name is confusingly similar to their own.

The Doobie Brothers trademarked their band name — as well as the use of “Doobies” for musical performances — in 1982, and their suit argues that the Doobie Decimal System’s moniker is “highly phonetically and visually similar” to their own, a similarity further compounded by the larger font used for the word “Doobie” in the Decimal System’s website and concert posters.
Ah, yes, an enormously popular classic rock band with the kind of name recognition most bands only dream about is going to be confused with the Doobie Decimal System, a cover band whose name is a play on an organizational system for libraries. Congratulations, trademark pushers, this is where you've brought us. I contend that no amount of doobies could actually result in this doobie-confusion, but some of the supporters of this lawsuit are really stretching themselves to argue that there would indeed be such confusion.
Although the story is being spun in some quarters as though the Doobie Brothers are claiming to own the word “doobie,” they’re really just defending the trademark they own — and as Billboard‘s report points out, since the Doobie Decimal System performs hits from the same decade that produced most of the Doobie Brothers’ bestselling albums, they’re not entirely out of line in viewing one another as indirect competitors.
Yeah, actually, they kind of are out of line of direct competition. Nobody is confused here and the cover band is competing with The Doobie Brothers about as much as a little league game competes with Major League Baseball. Sure, they're both baseball, but nobody is trying to figure out how to spend their baseball dollar and deciding between the two. In the meantime, even if The Doobie Brothers felt some kind of fearful obligation to protect their trademark, they could certainly be going about it more amicably than this suit.
They’re seeking “an accounting, an injunction and punitive damages for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition.”
Our only hope here is that the folks that own the IP on the Dewey Decimal system (yes, seriously, someone owns it) can be brought into the mix, causing the sitting judge's head to explode in frustration so everyone can just go home.

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Filed Under: cover band, doobie brothers, doobie decimal system, trademark


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  • identicon
    Christenson, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:16pm

    Unfair Use!

    Good lord...it takes zero time to figure out that Doobie Decimal System is a parody name!!!

    Isn't there a fair use exception for parody trademarks?

    Is somebody perhaps taking advantage of the Streisand effect here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digitari, 28 Jul 2015 @ 11:33pm

    The doobie brothers..

    smoked one too many doobies...

    can 60's stoners sue????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:08am

    Once again Timothy wishing the death of a magistrate for his own amusement. The DOJ is probably building a case as we speak, you should be careful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:20am

      Re:

      The same way that horse with no name swore that Otis Wright would get his?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Digitari, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:02am

      Re:

      what? wow, what? where? Are you even looking at the same page???

      I know folks like you want to make imaginary property real but what delusional words are you seeing?

      be specific and quote the text you are talking about please.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 1:36am

    Confusion for morons in a hurry

    The only morons in a hurry that would be confused between the two are ....

    Let's here it for them ....

    The Doobie Brothers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 29 Jul 2015 @ 2:13am

    Let's see...30+ year group who probably hasn't a dime between them (state fairs probably don't pay much) because the record company screwed them, never signed a deal with Apple, Spotify or any other online service (PIRATES!)...are trying to become relevant again by invoking the Streisand effect by suing a PARODY BAND...

    It's a shame seeing what old groups will go through to see records again without ACTUALLY doing anything...

    /rant

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 3:56am

    I kept reading Boobie and Boobies all over the article. Makes thinks way funnier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Curi ous, 29 Jul 2015 @ 4:10am

    While it does appear excessive, just searching for "weaken trademark name by not suing" will clarify to anyone that they have no real choice.
    example:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverherzfeld/2013/02/28/failure-to-enforce-trademarks-i f-you-snooze-do-you-lose/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Drawoc Suomynona (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re: (weakening by not suing)

      The Doobie Brothers seem to own the only registered trademark that includes the word DOOBIE for entertainment services (there is another recently filed application for DOOBIE DEMOLITION but it's a good bet it get's rejected based on the existing reg), but whether the Doobie Brothers will be successful or not in this suit may indeed depend on whether they have been defending the name consistently in the past. If there are a slew of other "DOOBIE" named bands making music and they have been allowed to perform without challenge for a long period of time it will be very hard for the DB to put that genie back in the bottle. However, if the DBs have a been enforcing the DOOBIE BROTHERS trademark consistently and taking action against other "DOOBIE" named bands in the past then they will most likely prevail.

      In these situations I always ask this question: would party B have chosen the name/brand/trademark that they did if it were not for the existence of the name/brand/trademark of party A. If the answer is no, then there's a good chance that party B is trading off the goodwill, the notoriety, the fame of party A.

      This is why you see tribute bands choose names that are suggestive of the music of a certain band, but they don't ever use the band's name unless they have a license. Of course, this leads to all sorts of fun...
      http://www.vh1.com/news/11250/imitation-leather-the-most-hilarious-classic-rock-tribute-band-n ames-ever/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      While it does appear excessive, just searching for "weaken trademark name by not suing" will clarify to anyone that they have no real choice.

      We've discussed this many times. While you do have to enforce your trademark to keep it, that DOES NOT MEAN you have to sue. (1) It only matters in cases where there's a real likelihood of confusion and (2) you can absolutely just hand out a free license as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 5:08am

    It should be noted that the Doobie Decimal System was founded by Jason Crosby and Roger McNamee. It should also be noted that Roger is a multi millionaire and part of a VC fund worth billions. I doubt very highly the Doobie Brothers would be filing suit against a cover band without that type of capital.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 5:10am

    They say that the claim is insane
    And that trademark is a game
    We're talkin' 'bout the China Grove
    Oh, China Grove

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 5:55am

    Doobie at the library.

    When I hear this I throw my Doobie shirt on and run to the library to hear great cover bands.

    I can't tell you how many times I have been disappointed. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 6:05am

    all this while they're in the middle of their "Oh Shit, We Don't Have a Retirement Fund" Tour of state fairs and second rate casinos...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 6:15am

    Amazing! Freakin' Amazing!!

    What's so Amazing! Freakin' Amazing!! is that I haven't heard that name since 1982 - in grade seven! We smoked doobies, and listened to Iron Maiden & Billy Idol - yeah, that was hard then :)

    Have you ever been in a Library when you're high? I understand the name 'Doobie Decimal System'

    This is funny, but it's a tragic comedy - must've run out the royalties...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:17am

      Re: Amazing! Freakin' Amazing!!

      ...I haven't heard that name since 1982...

      I too thought they had called it a career. Then 6 years ago (or thereabout) they released a new album. AFAIK that album went nowhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Laura Quilter (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 7:52am

    Dewey IP

    Be careful what you wish for. Dewey is owned by OCLC, which has over-policed and over-claimed IP in the past.

    OCLC sued The Library Hotel in NYC for using Dewey Decimal Classification numbers for room numbers, for instance -- http://librarytechnology.org/news/pr.pl?id=15488 ), and has repeatedly tried to claim ownership of library records that were created by individual libraries in what was intended to be a cooperative system (https://www.techdirt.com/blog.php?company=oclc).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 29 Jul 2015 @ 8:49am

    The OCLC would have a stronger claim

    The Doobie Brothers claim seems completely without merit to me. There's no possible confusion there. However, the Online Computer Library Center holds the trademark for "Dewey Decimal System" -- if there's even a slight chance for confusion it would be with that.*


    * I'm only seriously joking here, as the OCLC's trademark is in a different market category.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Larry, 29 Jul 2015 @ 9:21am

    I'm confused

    Am I supposed to find my library books by listening to a Doobie Brother's cover band, or...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stephen Q. Pickering, 29 Jul 2015 @ 10:51am

    TYPICAL. Just...typical.

    There is an INFAMOUS very special TWO PART episode of 70s sitcom WHATS HAPPENING!? where Rerun Stubbs bootlegs (records, on a crap recorder) a Doobie Brother's concert. It's called DOOBIE OR NOT DOOBIE (S2E16). You used to be able to watch this landmark episode on YouTube but it got DMCA'd by Sony.

    The Doobies get on their high horse lecturing about how terrible it is to tape a concert. I grew up thinking taping a concert was like rape (I was a little kid when I saw it).

    It must be seen to be believed. Nothing about this story surprising me. They are a litigious bunch, of doobious talent, spawned yacht rock sensation Michael McDonald, which I will never forgive them for, and Skunk Baxter works for the defense or intelligence establishment now.

    What a wretched bunch of human beings. That I cannot stand their music to begin with is almost beside the point.

    Oh look, the Whats Happening?! episode has a Facebook page. Of course it does, because it was the dumbest moment of the 1970s. And that's saying a lot.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Episode-of-Whats-Happening-Where-Rerun-Bootlegs-the-Doobie-B rothers/128063007271313

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2015 @ 12:39pm

      Re: TYPICAL. Just...typical.

      That episode gave me the creeps. Not all of their "message" episodes were bad, though: as a kid, I learned the very valuable lesson that worshiping a head of lettuce was way uncool. Lettuce go.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andy, 30 Jul 2015 @ 12:26pm

    Doob newb dudes sued!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2015 @ 2:02am

    as well as the use of “Doobies” for musical performances — in 1982


    I have a feeling there is prior art regarding the use of doobies for musical performances


    In other news, drug war over, trademark prevents use of doobies!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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