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NYT Discusses Trademark Bullying, Though Its Example Case is Questionable

I don’t usually post on Fridays, but I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the NYT article yesterday on trademark bullying.

It led into the issue using Procter & Gamble’s objection to a startup’s use of WILLA based on P&G’s prior use of WELLA, both in connection with personal care products.

The article’s definitely worth a look, but I’m not sure WELLA vs. WILLA is the best example of trademark bullying — even if P&G is big and the startup is small. That said, P&G didn’t do itself any favors when its cease-and-desist letter threatened if the startup didn’t immediately drop its mark, P&G would pursue “lengthy and expensive alternative measures.”

Interestingly, the article states the startup expects to pay $750k defending its right to use the mark.

Trademark bullying or no, if I were a startup, there’s no way I could justify spending that kind of cash defending my right to use my chosen mark. I also question whether the startup did a trademark search to see whether its contemplated mark was likely to get it into this kind of scrape before it invested in the mark. (The startup chose WILLA because it’s the name of the owner’s daughter.) Sentiment aside, I can’t imagine the fight is worth it.

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Registered CommenterMichael Atkins in | CommentsPost a Comment

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