Super smart lawyers not so smart after all

Evidently, the National Pork Board and its lawyers at Faegre & Benson don’t have a sense of humor. They sent a very serious 12-page cease and desist letter to ThinkGeek for its use of the trademarked slogan “The other white meat” on an parody ad promoting Canned Unicorn Meat.

Really:

Recently we got the best-ever cease and desist letter. We’re no stranger to the genre, so what could possibly make this one stand out from the rest?

First, it’s 12 pages long and very well-researched (except on one point); it even includes screengrabs of the offending item from our site. And we know they’re not messing around because they invested in the best and brightest legal minds.

But what makes this cease and desist so very, very special is that it’s for a fake product we launched for April Fool’s day.

It wasn’t the iCade, or the Dharma Initiative Clock, or even the Tribbles ‘n’ Bits Breakfast Cereal.

No, it was the Canned Unicorn Meat.

The very special but also very real letter is from the National Pork Board, who claims we’re infringing on the slogan “The Other White Meat,” a slogan they’re apparently thinking about phasing out anyways.

Be sure to head on over to ThinkGeek‘s site to see the screen grab of the offending parody ad and read the first page of the cease and desist letter. It’s hilarious. Although I’m not sure National Pork Board or Faegre &Benson are laughing right now because it’s turned into a pretty embarrassing PR blunder.

I realize Faegre & Benson were just following orders from its client, but, really, didn’t anyone at either organization notice at any point during this process that the advertisement was a joke? The word “unicorn” or the claim that the meat was an “Excellent source of sparkles!” didn’t tip off anyone? Seriously, if I were the legal secretary, I would have felt ridiculous typing the sentence, “We are writing to you in connection with your activities at the website www.thinkgeek.com, wherein you have been marketing a product called “Radiant Farms Canned Unicorn Meat” using the slogan “Uncorn – the other white meat.”

Hat tip: Instapundit

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  • jim m

    Ah, yes. The difficulties in living life without a sense of humor.

  • glenn

    Well guys, I hate to tell you but we are well into our second generation of people who have the collective common sense of a housefly.

  • Matt

    That’s what you get when you decide to take on a whole website dedicated to “Geeks.”

  • Gmac

    /snickers

    I wonder sometimes how parasites like that get paid so much to be so stupid.

  • Stan

    Some of Barry’s voter?

  • google showed 74,600 for national pork board unicorn meat. bing showed 58,400 results

  • Roy

    I’d say they have a lot of other more important problems to work on – for one, that name “National Pork Board”.

  • Upset Old Guy

    On a serious note, someone/thing needs to be fired over this.

    If the Pork Board’s attorneys didn’t know that the ThinkGeek piece was a parody and that legal action was impossible they need to be fired.

    If the Pork Board’s attorneys didn’t counsel against taking any action and threat to refuse to draft the take-down notice they need to be fired.

    And if the attorneys did properly advise and counsel the Pork Board, whomever on the Pork Board that refused that advice and counsel needs to be fired… as well as any superiors who signed off of the action.

    Bad PR, you bet. This was a tactical error, you don’t get counseled at HR for this kind of stuff. Heads need to roll.

  • BlueNight

    Actually, dilution of trademarks and branding can be a serious deal. Remember when “Got milk?” was a catchy phrase ending milk commercials? It’s everywhere now, and doesn’t have any of the punch it once did. Toys’R’Us has a heck of a time sending out the C&Ds to all the ‘R’Us and ‘R’We parodies.

  • Jer

    “…don’t have a sense of humor.” ?

    Sure they do. They must be laughing themselves silly all the way to the bank for having the NPB actually pay them to write twelve pages of drivel.
    /s