Developing a brand is a complicated business. You want your brand to stand out and you want it to be memorable. In the news recently two business owners had reached that eureka moment. They thought they had come up with the perfect solution, alas, their creative ideas fell foul of the law.
A Chilean business woman wanted her honey to have a humorous name and thought she had come up with the perfect solution: Miel Gibson (miel being the Spanish word for honey).
Unfortunately, an image from the film Braveheart was also used on the product and a ‘cease and desist’ letter followed, because permission had not been sought to use this or Mel Gibson’s name.
Determined not to give up, she posted social media pleas to Mel Gibson and posts explaining her plight and she is hopeful that some arrangement can be agreed if she removes the film image from the jars.
As Mel’s William Wallace declared: ‘It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom!’
Another ‘cease and desist’ letter was sent to a window-fitter, this time from DC Comics. Mr Galert had used the Superman shield as part of the logo for his Superglide brand, without obtaining permission.
Mr Galert had adapted the famous symbol, known to stand for ‘truth, justice, and the American way’, so that a “G” encapsulated the “S” and filed a trade mark application in the UK for this. Opposition proceedings followed, resulting in a hearing where the UK Intellectual Property Office decided the trade mark application should not proceed because of indirect confusion or a perception of co-branding. In other words, consumers could be confused into thinking Mr Galert was in some way linked to DC Comics.
Following the decision, Mr Galert decided to continue to use his logo until another ‘cease and desist’ letter arrived.
Creativity is encouraged when developing a brand, but these situations illustrate the importance of seeking legal advice to ensure your branding does not infringe others’ rights or will not induce a claim for passing off.