OK Go: cereal giant and indie rockers in legal battle over name the band had first

Originally published at: OK Go: cereal giant and indie rockers in legal battle over name the band had first | Boing Boing


They are a fantastic band- I hope they win this!


This is how trademark law works. OK Go (the band) has a trademark covering certain categories:

  • IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: musical sound recordings; musical video recordings; pre-recorded flash drives featuring musical recordings. FIRST USE: 20000900. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20000900
  • IC 014. US 002 027 028 050. G & S: ornamental lapel pins. FIRST USE: 20100000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20100000
  • IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: printed flip books; printed posters. FIRST USE: 19990000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19990000
  • IC 018. US 001 002 003 022 041. G & S: all purpose sports bags; drawstring bags; tote bags. FIRST USE: 20100000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20100000
  • IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: clothing, namely, t-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts; hats, caps. FIRST USE: 20100000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20100000
  • IC 026. US 037 039 040 042 050. G & S: ornamental novelty buttons. FIRST USE: 20100000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20100000
  • IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: entertainment services, namely, musical performances by a band, providing online videos featuring music. FIRST USE: 19990525. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19990525

Post has one covering a different category:

  • IC 030. US 046. G & S: Breakfast cereals; Cereal-based snack foods

OK Go (the band) thinks that Post’s newer trademark will cause marketplace confusion, so they sent a cease and desist. Post says they don’t think it will and files a suit to force a legal decision one way or the other so it’s not in limbo forever. Seems like pretty standard stuff here from both parties.


Just change the name of the band to F U Post and call it a day


Post Cereals is my new death metal band, and most of our songs are about putting cyanide, metal barbs, and hog semen in boxes of Fruity Pebbles.


Is it soup yet?


I wonder if OK Go’s counsel will be able to refrain from telling Post to Get Over It at some point during the proceedings…


I think the argument in this case is that OK Go has in fact done brand partnerships, including with food companies, and that Post’s cereal falsely suggests a similar endorsement by the band.


i wouldn’t call OK Go punk, but they certainly are Warholian in their business savvy and their creativity. i hope they win this one, because they should.


Now you’re not only violating trademark, but their patented recipe!


Indeed. I intend to bring this up for discussion at rehearsal tonight with my band, Chips Ahoy!™℠®©


I think you guys should look into playing post-metal instead.


The Hold Steady might want to have a discussion with you over that one.


I’m surprised Post cereals haven’t sued Bjork too.


The band could always change their name to “OK GTFO.”


It is pretty standard stuff, but I think OK Go has a really strong case here. While it’s true that none of their current trademarks involve cereal or foods, you have to keep in mind the purpose of trademarks, which, unlike the other two forms of intellectual property law (patents and copyrights), is to protect consumers at least as much as the trademark holder. Here, OK Go has done cross-promotional work with Post before, with Honey Bunches of Oats. That makes it possible that a jury could find that a reasonable person might assume that a new Ok Go! branded cereal product is associate with the band as well. What also hurts Post’s position is that after receiving the cease and desist, they made an offer to the band to make it a cross-promotional marketing effort. The band declined, which they have every right to do, but that Post made the offer in the first place suggests that they may have believed there was a trademark issue.

All that being said, I would be shocked if this ever saw a courtroom. They’ll reach a settlement at some point, and if I had to guess, I’d guess Post changes the name of the product a little, gives the band a little money, and that’s it. Because I don’t think Post has a strong case.


I love this ba

“OK Go Fuck Yourself” was RIGHT THERE!


BINGO! Post done fucked up. This will not go well for them.


Trademark law is about avoiding confusion of consumers regarding who the manufacturer of a product or the provider of a service is. When you apply for a trademark, you apply for it for certain classes of goods or services, and you have to prove usage for each. You do not get the right to prevent everybody else out there from using it.

As an example, if I use the trademark “X-14-Ultra” to sell oranges then it is OK for somebody else to provide pool cleaning services under that name. Selling oranges and pool cleaning services are not commonly (or uncommonly) connected, and consumers would not assume that both are done by the same company.

OK Go are a band and in the business of selling music and merchandise. Another band calling themselves OK Go would be confusing to consumers. A food called OK Go is not. So unless I’m missing something fundamental here there is no reason for the band OK Go to sue a food manufacturer who is using the phrase “OK Go” as the name of a food product. They would obviously not prevail in court.

The band threatening to sue is a business risk. The reasonable way to deal with that would have been to explain the above to them and hope that they agree that they don’t have a legal leg to stand on. The corporate way is to counter-sue. You may not like that, but the band started this.

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