Saturday, September 10, 2005

Registered Trademarks

One more thing before I leave the Starbucks topic. I occasionally buy a bottled fruit smoothie there; one of those healthy, alternative brand smoothies that they keep in the refrigerator case.

You know how all those little fruit-smoothie-in-a-bottle brands are all going for that hippie, Ben & Jerrys asthetic? The little smoothie with the rainbow on it, or the cartoon drawing - its very existence seems to be a rebuke to the cold, cruel, Minute Maid juice empire. This is a rogue, underground smoothie. A smoothie that doesn't play by the old rules. It's a new, hip, enlightened kind of smoothie, one made in a socially responsible, eco-friendly, diversity respecting sort of way.

Let me read you, verbatim, the text from the smoothie label. Note, this is an Odwalla brand, "Citrus C Monster" smoothie. Also note, the font here on Blogspot won't let me use the symbol for a trademark or a registered trademark, you know - the "r" with the circle around it or the tiny "TM". So I'll just indicate where they appear in plain text. Okay....

Citrus C Monster (registered trademark)

Easy to C. (trademark) This sweet, C - ferrying smoothie is a blend of orange juice, peach puree, apple juice, pureed guava, pineapple juice, acerola cherry juice, raspberry puree and passion fruit juice. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that you body needs. It neutralizes free radicals and plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system. With multiple sources of Vitamin C in a delicious multi-fruit smoothie, this Monster is a wonderful way to "C for Yourself"(registered trademark). To read some nourishing stories, visit our People to Planet (registered trademark) page at

All right. Do you think the happy, silly, whimsical intent of these phrases here is just slightly undermined by the constant legal reminder that those phrases are protected by trademark? You're trying (desperately, I think) to generate these warm, gushy feelings in your customer base, and at every turn, you are hinting that you will not hesitate to unleash your lawyers and sue their asses back to the stone age if they just try and use your whimsical phrase without permission.

Let's say I trademarked the phrase "I wuv you!". Now say I send you a bouquet of flowers and a card saying "I wuv you!" (registered trademark) Wouldn't that be a profoundly disturbing message? Wouldn't you put down the card and back away very slowly?

The r-with-the circle-around-it means only one thing. It means WE HAVE LAWYERS ASSHOLE. YOU WILL BE SUED.

And what gives Odwalla the balls to think so highly of it's stupid little trademarked phrases? Do you really think, Odwalla people, that there is a single person on this earth who has been tempted, even for a second, to steal the phrase "C for Yourself"? Has anyone, even for a moment, been impressed by naming your website "People to Planet" - like you and you alone are the first people to think of making a consumer-interactive website, or you and you alone understand the rich subtlety of how a website can unite people over great distances?

Or do you not care about any of that, and "C for Yourself" and "People to Planet" is just a desperate bid for whimsy, because that's what you think sells smoothies?

Okay, I just visited the website, and man does it reek of incense and unwashed feet. Apparantly, they have a unique process for making juice called freshalicious. No, wait a minute, let me go back and make sure... no, it's actually Freshology.

Don't you understand (and now I'm talking to the general public) that the very existence of the word Freshology means that someone, somewhere has taken you for an idiot? I'm not anti-whimsy here, I'm not anti-fun, but Odwalla, you HAVE to TRY... HARDER. Trademarking your warm-fuzzy slogans undermines their entire reason for existence, it's useless to trademark them anyway because there's not a chance in hell anyone wants to steal them (If your legal department says different you can fire them) and you need to scrap Freshology. How about Frooteloo! or Freshgasmic! Those are free, by the way. They're all yours.

1 comment:

Dr. Nuk-Nuk Smith said...

I like to play a game called "Scene It", kind of a trivial pursuit for film groupies. Anyway, not only is virtually every phrase possibly associated with anything that's ever been used used before burdened with that giant "trademark" sign, but so too is the word "Oscar". I guess they're terrified that if I saw that word without the super-sized trademark logo that I might run out, gather all my friends together and start my own deeply fraudulent "Oscars". We wouldn't have any movies at first, but soon - given the right amount of time and certain fortuitious turns of events - I might develop it into a powerful but phony challenge to the real Oscars and destroy everything the Acedemy has labored for nearly a century to create. What they don't realize, is that that stupid trademark sign makes me want to do that just to spite them. This year, I'm nominating myself for "Best Picture".