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Best Buy is threatening to sue a Catholic priest over his Beetle that reads "God Squad". Best Buy claims that violates its Geek Squad trademark.  (Source: Flickr)
Best Buy accuses Catholic Priest of violating its trademark and Geek Squad look

Father Luke Strand of the Holy Family Parish in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, has a pretty interesting ride.  He drives around town in a black Volkswagen Beetle with a logo featuring the phrase "God Squad" emblazoned on it.  That logo and the vehicle itself bear a striking similarity to the mobile service vehicles of Best Buy's service team, the Geek Squad.

Apparently, Best Buy isn't pleased with its look being appropriated by this man of the cloth.  Lawyers for the electronics retailer sent Father Strand a cease-and-desist letter telling him to ditch the logo or face consequences.  

Father Strand mentioned the letter at his Sunday Mass.

Speaking to the
Fond du Lac Reporter, Father Strand defended the logo.  He says he uses the logo as a creative way to spur discussions and bring his faith to the community.

Best Buy told reporters for the 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that while it appreciates Father Strand's sentiments, it cannot stand by and watch its trademarks be violated.

The legal dispute revives a long ongoing question of just how much ownership to an icon a company can claim.  Apple, Inc., for example, has been particularly zealous in legally assailing those who supposedly violated its trademark.  From New York City to music festivals, anyone who used the logo of an Apple -- or particularly a logo of an Apple with a bite out of it -- was hit with lawsuits or cease-and-desist letters. 

Some argue that companies are taking trademark enforcement to far; corporate lawyers would obviously disagree.

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RE: Definitely a copy...
By iNGEN2 on 8/17/2010 6:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
The purpose of a trademark is to uniquely identify a non-person entity or an entity's agent. There is only one thing relevant to a trademark. Would a common person on the street mistakenly believe the icon represents the plaintiff. If the answer is yes, then the trademark has been infringed. If no, then no infringement has occurred.

Can anyone here honestly say, "When I saw that priest get out of the GodSquad car I thought, 'Gee my computer must be in much worse shape than I realized'."

It seems in recent years corporate image has become the commercial world's version of personal injury law.

RE: Definitely a copy...
By iNGEN2 on 8/17/2010 6:53:27 PM , Rating: 2
Remember, you can actually use the exact same logo as another company if it has not been copyrighted, even if it has been trademarked. As long as your use of the logo could not cause reasonably confusion of your company and the other.

For example, I could use the image of the Nike swoosh as the logo for my frozen fish company. I can even name it "Nike Fish". While the use of "Nike" is, I presume, copyrighted and I would likely be committing copyright infringement, no person could think that the same company that makes athletic footwear and apparel is the same company delivering frozen fish to the grocery store.

Since BestBuy's claim is one of trademark, I find it highly unlikely this will bear out. Then again, the courts these days seem to abandon reason with, well, abandon.

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