Trademark Musings

Thoughts on trademark issues by Laura Winston

What Do Pork, Salmon and Unicorns Have in Common?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for the National Pork Board.  For years they have been calling pork THE OTHER WHITE MEAT.  Presumably, that along with the reduction in fat (and unfortunately taste) in some pork cuts has led to people consuming more pork.

I guess the salmon folk got tired of pork seeing all the action, so Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company filed an application to register the trademark THE OTHER RED MEAT for “fresh and frozen salmon”.   Not quite sure why a fish that’s supposed to be so heart healthy with its Omega-3’s (let’s overlook the pollutant and antibiotic issue for now) would want to try to call to mind “red meat” in its advertising.   It’s really the opposite purpose of the Pork Board slogan.

Pork filed an opposition to the trademark application, and on June 11 the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sided with THE OTHER WHITE MEAT.  The case is a big deal because the TTAB did not think there would be any likelihood of consumer confusion, but they believed there was a likelihood of dilution of the trademark by blurring.   (Dilution, a much-debated topic, is based on the idea that even if consumers will not think that 2 trademarks come from the same source, the presence of one will weaken the other’s brand.  Think “McDonald’s Car Wash” and “FedEx Crackers”, 2 fictional examples.)

So score one for pork over salmon, but pork may not be so lucky against unicorns.  The Pork Board recently sent a cease and desist letter to ThinkGeek.com, which on April Fool’s Day launched its new product, canned unicorn meat.  Packaged like SPAM, ThinkGeek called it “the new white meat” as well as “an excellent source of sparkles”.  It took the Pork Board 12 pages to tell ThinkGeek that it had better cease as well as desist.  Having read the Harry Potter series, I know the dangers of drinking unicorn blood, so I think I would avoid the meat as well.  And I hear unicorns really get mad when they’re compared to pigs.

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July 4, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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