A war is raging between two culture makers. One side is into yogurt culture and the other’s business is ethical culture. The war is over a trademark. Each side says it has the right to the word, “how.”
Chobani, the largest Greek yogurt maker in the U.S., is using “How Matters” in an ad campaign. Chobani wants us to remember that “How We Make Our Yogurt Matters.”
Chobani’s How Matters was one of the best Super Bowl commercials:
Meanwhile, a business/life guru, Dov Seidman, claiming he has the exclusive right to use HOW as a trademark, has taken Chobani to court. On his webpage, we see “HOW moments, HOW matters. HOW at work. HOW metrics. The Journey of HOW. The HOW course, Act HOW, Behind HOW” and finally, “Learn HOW.”
From Dov Seidman’s website:
The Louboutin Decision
A trademark for a name is all about having an intellectual property monopoly. The problem though is where to draw the line. And that takes us to a red-soled shoe.
In a 2012 decision, a federal court of appeals decided that except for a monochromatic red shoe, Louboutin and only Louboutin has the right to a red sole. Saying that, “We hold that the lacquered red outsole, as applied to a shoe with an ‘upper’ of a different color, has ‘come to identify and distinguish’ the Louboutin brand and…qualifies for trademark protection.”
If you can call the sole your intellectual property, what about the shoe?
Probably not. Like jackets and pants and shirts, shoes are too utilitarian to be protected by intellectual property laws. We all have the right to copy their design. In fact, for fashion, experts like Johanna Blakley believe a copycat culture is good:
Our Bottom Line: Intellectual Property
So yes, just like tangible goods, we can own the right to intellectual property. However, isn’t how sufficiently ubiquitous that no one should own the right to use it exclusively? But then again, what about Apple?