Battle of the BrandsWritten By Tony Steadman
As time goes on there are fewer and fewer names available for companies to use to represent themselves. Judgement is definitely passed on names and URLs for your company several hyphens or being followed by anything other than .com seems to automatically seems to affect the business in question’s professionalism/legitimacy.
With the Icelandic government taking on its retail namesake, we look at the brands that have fought over trademark infringement
Iceland, the land of fire and ice, is taking on Iceland, the purveyor of frozen chicken tikka lasagne, in a major trademark battle. The Icelandic government launched legal action against the British supermarket last week, arguing that the grocery chain, which owns the Europe-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland is preventing Icelandic companies from promoting themselves abroad.
The contest is one of many brand name legal battles offering more entertaining plot points than your average box set. Some more interesting ones include:
Elvis Presley v BrewDog
Elvis Presley may have died (or so most of us believe) in 1977 but his name lives on, and sometimes not in quite the way the guardians of his estate would like. This year the Presley estate entered a trademark dispute with Scottish brewer BrewDog, demanding it drop the name of its beer brand “Elvis Juice IPA”. In response, BrewDog’s founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie, have changed their names by deed poll to Elvis so they can argue they named the beer after themselves. Watt and Dickie explained in a pun fuelled press statement that they were “caught in a trap” and advised the “grey-suited hound dogs” at the Presley estate divert their attention to “another potential source of quick remuneration: a brewery that calls itself ‘The King’ of beer”.
Apple Corps v Apple Computer
When he named his company Apple, Steve Jobs must have foreseen he’d attract the attention of Apple Corps, the holding company founded by the Beatles in the late 1960s. In 1978, two years after Apple Computer launched, Apple Corps, owner of the Beatles’ record label Apple Records, sued it for trademark violation. In 1981 they settled with the understanding that Apple Computer would never enter the music industry. Needless to say, this settlement didn’t last. The dispute came to a head after Apple unveiled iTunes in 2003 and it wasn’t put to rest until 2007 when it was agreed Apple Inc, the company dropped “Computer” from its name that year, would own of all the trademarks related to “Apple” and would license certain trademarks back to Apple Corps, including Apple Corps’ granny smith logo. The Beatles’ back catalogue finally became available on iTunes in 2010 after years of negotiations. Jobs, a Beatles fan, described the whole saga as a “long and winding road”.
WWF v WWF
When wrestling company Titan Sports changed its name to the World Wrestling Federation it was drawn into a legal fight with another WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, that lasted 13 years. The conservation charity took action to protect its brand from what it described as an “unsavoury” connection with wrestling, and, in 2001 a court in London ruled in its favour. Not one to take a beating lying down, the World Wrestling Federation challenged the ruling, and, after that was dismissed, it threatened to appeal. The wrestlers eventually gave in and spent millions rebranding to World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE. It also used the line “Get The ‘F’ Out” as a marketing slogan. After the World Wildlife Fund’s victory, a spokesman for the charity said: “It’s been the wrestlers against a cute little panda bear. And the panda won.”
A little closer to our Bristol Studio was a clash between an independent clothing store Dutty and Spanish mega brand Massimo Dutti took place last year. It’s an interesting story for the full details follow this link: