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The "slovenly" faux-Best Buy employee is pictured in Newegg's latest commercial; a real Best Buy employee is pictured in a separate image. Can you tell which is which?  (Source: M-Live, YouTube)

Best Buy is also upset about Newegg's new "Geek On" Logo, which it says violates its Geek Squad-related trademarks.
Commercial depicts clueless blue-shirted employee struggling to explain products to customers

Is it illegal to show a video of a blue polo-wearing employee in a computer store?  Best Buy's legal staff appear to think so.

I. Best Buy Upset About "Slovenly", "Uninformed" Employee Depiction

They sent a legal threat to City of Industry, California-based online retailer Newegg.com for a new commercial that found its way onto TV and on YouTube, the world's most used video sharing site.  Best Buy writes:
We... recently learned that Newegg is running a commercial on television and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYk0dQrz3uc&feature=youtu.be" rel="nofollow) depicting a blue-shirted salesperson in a store with a similar layout/color scheme to a Best Buy store, so as to represent a Best Buy employee.  The fake Best Buy employee is depicted as slovenly and uninformed about computer products, in contrast to your employees who are portrayed as "experts."

Your... negative portrayal of our employees violates trademark rights and misleads customers about our services, in violation of federal and state law.  While we welcome fair competition, we cannot tolerate unfair competition that disparages our employess, confuses our customers and damages our valuable trademarks and goodwill associated with those marks.  We take great pride in our employees and the high quality of customer service they offer and find your company's focus on our employees in this advertising campaign particularly offensive.  We expect that you would be equally offended if the tables were turned and a competitor launched an advertising campaign portraying your employees as slovenly and uninformed.
To be fair, the employee pictured doesn't appear particularly "slovenly" -- a trip to your local Best Buy store will reveal he in fact is pretty much the norm -- the store is home to the world's most well-coiffed employees in our experience.

In reality, Best Buy may be getting a little uncomfortable as the ad hits a bit too close to home.  One YouTube commenter (uprated 125 times) remarks:
Sadly, this IS what best buy is.

There's a reason knowledgeable people don't shop at best buy, and poor consumers get ripped off without even knowing it.
Another comments, "oh man this commercial is giving best buy employees? too much credit."

The encounter depicted is in line with our staff's personal interactions with Best Buy sales staff across the country, as well.  For example, when shopping for a laptop in 2008, floor sales staff at two separate local Best Buy stores were unable to properly assess laptop graphics performance and were unaware of current mobile graphics card offerings.  

In both cases it took several employees in the computer department to find one that could compared and contrast offered processors in a technically sound manner.  And in both cases, the employees suggested that the DailyTech staffer "apply for the Geek Squad" as they "seem to know a lot about computers."

Of course, these experiences are limited, but based on feedback on YouTube and Facebook it seems we're not the only ones who have encountered this.

The broader question is whether depicting a company in an unfavorable manner -- without using specific logos or brand names -- is illegal.  In this regard Best Buy's legal chances seem poor, given that Verizon Communications, Inc.'s (VZ) successfully defended in court its right to air far more flagrant commercials attacking AT&T, Inc. (T); and the fact that Deutsche Telekom AG's (DTE) T-Mobile USA and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) have both [1][2] aired similar commercials attacking their competitors' products or brands by name.

II. Logo Abuse?

Best Buy also alleges that Newegg.com is abusing its trademarks pertaining to the Geek Squad -- namely, the use of the colors black and/or orange in relation to the terms "geek" or a power button logo.

Newegg.com has recently started a new services campaign [GIF] dubbed "Geek On", which shows an orange power button as the 'O' in "ON", next to black or white "GEEK" text (depending on the color of the backdrop).  The campaign pitches Newegg.com support and sales, and the company has been distributing promotional T-shirts as a part of the campaign.

Best Buy's lawyers write:
We recently learn that Newegg is using a stylized GEEK ON design in orange-and-black font with the "O" in "ON" depicted as a power button (the "Geek on Logo") with a new marketing campaign for Newegg's consumer electronics retail services.  We understand Newegg is using this design on its website, its Facebook site, and in connection with promotional items for Newegg's services such as t-shirts.  An illustrative use of the Geek On Logo is attached as Exhibit B.

Given Best Buy's long-standing prior use of the GEEK SQUAD mark, Geek Squad Trade Dress, and Tie and Power Button Design, Best Buy is concerned that Newegg's use of the Geek On Logo is likely to create confusion among consumers and to dilute the distinctive quality of the GEEK SQUAD mark in violation of Best Buy's trademark rights.  Best Buy is particularly concerned because the Geek On Logo features the GEEK-component of Best Buy's GEEK SQUAD mark, is depicted in the same orange-and-black color scheme as Best Buy's Geek Squad Trade Dress, features a power button design that is very similar to the Geek Squad Tie and Power Button Design, and is used to promote Newegg's competing consumer electronics retail services.
Whether anyone would actually "confuse" Best Buy and Newegg, is debatable, but Best Buy may have a bit more of a leg to stand on here.  Apple has in the past brought several similar lawsuits claiming violation of its logo [1][2][3].  Similarly, George Lucas has successfully brought several Star Wars related trademark lawsuits against small firms [1][2].

In other words, regardless of whether its fair or not, legal precedent has shown that marginally related logos and text can be grounds for a successful court case by the trademark originator against the late adopter.

III. What's Next?

Newegg.com does not appear to be backing down from either campaign and defiantly posted Best Buy's letter on its Facebook page.

A cease and desist letter is a legal tactic in which one party sends the other a letter formally warning them not to repeat certain actions like stalking.  If they violate the terms, they can face criminal and civil penalties under U.S. law.


Typically, a cease and desist letter is followed by a lawsuit if the addressed party does not comply.  It's now just a waiting game to see if Best Buy backs up its threats with legal muscle.

In the meantime all Best Buy's fuss is generating loads of free publicity for Newegg.com's commercial, which has already gathered 413,000+ views.

Best Buy sent a similar threat last year to a priest who used the slogan "God Squad" and drove a Volkswagen Beetle painted similar to those used by the Geek Squad.  The company does not appear to have followed up on that threat with any substantial legal action, perhaps because of the backlash that stories about the threat caused. 


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wow
By TechIsGr8 on 6/10/2011 1:33:51 PM , Rating: 5
the first two posts here are defending Best Buy. Astounding. Do you not remember the Best Buy CEO a few years back lamenting that educated customers were the "enemy"?




RE: wow
By icemansims on 6/10/2011 1:39:45 PM , Rating: 1
Of course, but that's not particularly surprising on his part. No retailer really likes educated customers.
Credit Card companies frequently refer to "good" customers (people who don't carry balances and never have to pay interest or penalty fees) as "dead beats".
Best Buy isn't really for the technically savvy, anyway. They are usually at least a generation behind the current and frequently only carry the middle of the road components.


RE: wow
By lagomorpha on 6/10/2011 3:07:18 PM , Rating: 5
> Credit Card companies frequently refer to "good" customers (people who don't carry balances and never have to pay interest or penalty fees) as "dead beats".

"debt beats"

And if you're in a Best Buy and can tell the difference between 2 year old middle of the road components and new top of the line components ... wtf are you doing in a Best Buy?


RE: wow
By icemansims on 6/10/2011 4:21:32 PM , Rating: 3
No...dead beats is what I meant, as they do not contribute to the income of the credit card company but are using their services.

http://credit.about.com/od/usingcreditcards/a/dead...

I CAN tell the difference. I rarely buy things from Best Buy because they're selling overpriced, outdated junk.

Most people who shop there DON'T know the difference. My mother is a good example. She's a bit of a technophobe, but recognizes the need for a computer. So, she would be the type to walk in and buy it off the shelf from such a big box computer store and get ripped off if I didn't do the research for her.
A good example would be a video card: an HD6450 vs an HD5970. To a lay person, they're not going to know the difference. In fact, they're more likely to choose the 6450 because it's a higher number, but they just don't know any better. How about the Pentium 4 vs the Athlon 64 back in the day? The Pentium 4 boasted a hell of a clock speed (3.2 GHz), but the Athlon 64 (2.4 GHZ) beat the pants off of it consistently AND was cheaper. A lay person at the time wouldn't have known that if they didn't do their homework.

Ignorance is the source of a lot of income at Best Buy.


RE: wow
By steven975 on 6/13/2011 10:11:20 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, those that reliably pay their balances each and every month are great customers.

They don't have the margin of those that rack up interest and penalties, but a CC company could run a successful business with ONLY those that pay their balances each month and still do quite well.

For example, let's say a person pays on-time, every time, and charges $2K per month. Each and every month, the CC company nets around 2% in transaction fees, or $40. Over the course of a year, that is $480, and at any given time, the maximum investment from the CC company's perspective is $2K or so. Add in that the collections and customer service costs are relatively low (it's the people up against the limit and paying through the nose in fees hogging those resources) along with the almost risk-free profiles of these customers, and you have a formula for good profits.

Many of these customers are also on good Rewards programs, so the "take" for the CC company may be ~1.5% instead, but it's still a good return given the low risks involved.

Counter this with someone with a $10K balance and 30% rate, and the return looks smaller...BUT these types also spend an hour a month with customer service whining, too. They also happen to delay payment, tying up investment, too. These are HIGH RISK customers, but with a lot of them you can make money, just like you can make money with low-risk customers.

Still, there's way more overall in the risky people, but most good CC companies don't ignore the low-risk people, either.


RE: wow
By Just Tom on 6/14/2011 10:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
Um, a rate of return on investment of 1.5% is terrible. And in your scenario it would be even less since you assume there are no costs to the credit card company when it issues and maintains a credit card account. 1.5% is below the normal inflation rate and significantly below the rate one could get investing in Treasury bills.

Credit card companies call people who pay their bills on time and in full every month deadbeats because they lose money on every such customer.


RE: wow
By steven975 on 6/15/2011 11:36:01 AM , Rating: 2
Ummm...that's 1.5% per month, 18% annualized.

$2K invested over the course of a year, at low risk, returning a dependable $360 is a pretty good deal.


RE: wow
By Argon18 on 6/16/2011 5:35:45 PM , Rating: 2
That's not a good deal, that's a great deal. In your example, $2k invested with $360 return per year = double your money every 6 years. That's a very very good investment from the CC's perspective.


RE: wow
By kattanna on 6/10/2011 1:56:08 PM , Rating: 5
whats even funnier is.. that by suing, they have made what would have otherwise been a commercial forgotten about within a week.. front page world news.. which will only make sure even more people now see the add for newegg

thats HOT



RE: wow
By lagomorpha on 6/10/2011 3:08:36 PM , Rating: 3
Gotta love the Streisand effect.


RE: wow
By rburnham on 6/10/2011 3:47:30 PM , Rating: 4
Exactly! I didn't even know Newegg made commercials. I already love their website more than anything else on the internet. Now I just love them a little bit more.


RE: wow
By icemansims on 6/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: wow
By EricMartello on 6/10/2011 5:03:39 PM , Rating: 2
So you're suggesting that if you ran a business and wanted to grow it, you wouldn't advertise?

Proper advertising is an investment because it provides a return on the money put into it. It's safe to say that Newegg's commercial will result in a nice boost to their sales - possibly from disappointed BestBuy shoppers who got smurfed into buying a $150 HDMI cable for their walkman, and the 3-year extended warranty.


RE: wow
By crazyboy1 on 6/10/2011 6:23:52 PM , Rating: 4
I have a friend who actually thinks his $150 hdmi cable is better than my $6 hdmi cable. he insists the picture transmitted is of higher quality. I tried explaining to him the difference between analog and digital but he was just pure ignorant, I guess people that spend that much on something have to believe they did the right thing otherwise they wouldn't bare live with themselves for being stupid


RE: wow
By BZDTemp on 6/10/2011 6:48:06 PM , Rating: 1
The weird thing is that with the way our brains work he may actually see the picture from the expensive cable as being superior. That's why blind tests are being used for testing audio and video products however if paying more makes a person thing something is better one could argue they are getting their moneys worth.

A similar effect can be found with organic food where many people insist unconditional that organic food tastes better even though blind taste tests show it's not that black and white.


RE: wow
By EricMartello on 6/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: wow
By Spuke on 6/11/2011 1:49:17 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Why pay more than $3-$10 for one?
I've got four, six year old $6 HDMI cables. Good as the first day I bought them and I live in the Mojave where we regularly experience single digit humidity. No dry rot here. And no luck either. I've had others buy these cables and theirs are still excellent also. $150 HDMI cables are simply WAY overpriced and exist only to relive the ignorant of their cash.

Yes, there are some better quality, more expensive HDMI cables out there (that are still not $150..Blue Jeans comes to mind) but unless you need a 100 foot run, it is a waste of money to buy them.


RE: wow
By isayisay on 6/11/2011 12:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
the other thing to keep in mind with cables, is the connectors. Cheap connectors don't connect up to cables well (and thus induce noise) and can break very easily.

I had a cheapo HDMI cable that fell apart and left the connector in the DVR. Annoying.

Overall, I'm fine with the low cost cables. Though some clearly have better build quality than others.


RE: wow
By semiconshawn on 6/12/2011 12:39:07 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Now there is a misleading trend that people think digital connections either work or they don't - that is false. Digital transmissions are less susceptible to the interference that affected analog cables, but if the signal is not strong enough or is otherwise degraded, it would result in you seeing blocky artifacts in the video or pops and crackles in the audio (aka digital jitter).


Yeah if you get one that causes artifacts its bad. Digital connections on your av equipment ARE pretty much go or no go. Stop trying to justifiy being ripped of for $50 bucks. I work with digital coax and fiber connections all day everyday at work. If it its built correctly it will work. If its not take it back.


RE: wow
By EricMartello on 6/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: wow
By Bad-Karma on 6/13/2011 4:15:04 AM , Rating: 3
What's that old saying....something about "a fool and his money...."


RE: wow
By EricMartello on 6/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: wow
By Smilin on 6/13/2011 10:19:49 AM , Rating: 2
A car analogy won't save you.

There is no image difference between a cheap one and an expensive one. I have yet to see an HDMI cable so cheap that it literally breaks when using it so buying an expensive one is a waste of money that could be spent elsewhere.


RE: wow
By EricMartello on 6/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: wow
By Argon18 on 6/16/2011 5:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong. Even with your kuro, a crap $6 hdmi cable will perform exactly the same as a $100 hdmi cable. hdmi is 100% digital. the video and the audio. all digital. does a $100 usb cable perform better than a $6 USB cable? How about a $100 Ethernet cable. Does it perform better than a $6 Ethernet cable? Of course not. Likewise, a $6 HDMI cable performs exactly the same as a $100 hdmi cable.

If you want to talk about analog cables, that is an entirely different story, and spending a bit more on quality cables with better shielding and construction WILL get you an appreciable gain in audio and video quality over a $6 crap cable.


RE: wow
By Farfignewton on 6/13/2011 10:28:33 AM , Rating: 4
I haven't driven a BMW 7 series and don't even know what they look like off the top of my head, but I'd be willing to bet they accelerate better, go faster, and have a ton more features than a Metro which will win on mpg only.

Oh, and lets not forget the status symbol part. You're probably not planning on washing your hdmi cables in the driveway to show off to your neighbors.


RE: wow
By Bad-Karma on 6/22/2011 2:09:58 PM , Rating: 1
What your missing is how much extra your paying for something that doesn't matter.

A digital signal requires a discreet amount of bandwidth to pass it's data, no-more,no-less. Any less bandwidth and the signal can not pass. If you experience pixelation then you've dropped below the minimum bandwidth threshold. However, a digital signal can't utilize any extra bandwidth (the signal doesn't get any better).

Your talking about buying an olympic class swimming pool so you can give your cat a bath.

Now to address your little rant:

I don't think anyone could ever accuse me of being a "cheapass",far from it. And why would it make me mad that someone could buy a 7 series? I have no use for one. My daily driver is a 2011 F-350 crew 4x4 6.7 LB dually. I also have a customized 03 F-550 that turns almost 800HP for when we want to travel with my 34ft 5th wheel. And my wife enjoys her 07 XJ8R to and from work each morning. Oh and we bought them not only because of the added comfort, but because we can.

So STFU you little snot nosed brat.


RE: wow
By Wiggy Mcshades on 6/13/2011 3:28:31 PM , Rating: 1
With a digital signal to actually be corrupted enough to cause a visual artifact it would have to be running out of spec. Modern serial communication protocols take into account that each bit sent won't always arrive as the correct value. There's a certain number of incorrect transmissions that can happen in a time frame for every protocol that can be properly dealt with. You can't get an artifact or pop unless the number of errors exceeds this amount set by who ever designed the communication protocol. So either the cable isn't made to spec or it is. If the cable is damaged or run in an environment that exceeds its operating specifications then you will probably be in a situation where there is noticeable loss in the quality of what ever media is being transmitted. Other than those two cases, if the cable is made to spec it will act the same as all other cables made to spec.


RE: wow
By The Jedi on 6/10/2011 5:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect increased prices are already here with them having to deal with all of the extra stuff they stock now that nobody buys. I get that they want to be Amazon, but I don't think that's best.


RE: wow
By Smilin on 6/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: wow
By Alexstarfire on 6/10/2011 2:12:11 PM , Rating: 3
In reality, nothing. However, he's associating the behavior of the CEO with the behavior of the company which is pretty fair given he's the CEO. Suggesting that the company doesn't want the consumers to become educated by going to Newegg given what the CEO stated.

Obviously the way to do the aforementioned is to stop the ad from being run by suing them over it.


RE: wow
By Smilin on 6/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: wow
By Alexstarfire on 6/10/2011 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
It both is and isn't. He may not directly be saying anything about Best Buy, but as he represents the company anything he says is going to be associated with it, good or bad. The man running a company should be capable of realizing that.


RE: wow
By Smilin on 6/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: wow
By JKflipflop98 on 6/12/2011 5:46:04 AM , Rating: 1
It has EVERYTHING to do with this. HE RUNS THE COMPANY. Things go the way he wants them to.


RE: wow
By Smilin on 6/13/2011 10:25:42 AM , Rating: 1
As far as I can tell the decision to sue regarding the blue shirts and copied store was a pretty obvious one. I pointed out the commercial to some people yesterday and they didn't realize it wasn't Best Buy.

This is a decision worthy of a mail clerk in the legal dept. The same events would occur regarless of who is CEO so him being a dick has nothing to do with this.

Maybe CAPS will change my mind. Try some of those.


RE: wow
By cjohnson2136 on 6/10/2011 2:15:44 PM , Rating: 2
They know I am the enemy. When my mom went to buy a laptop for a brother she kept calling me asking me all these questions about which stats, which prices sound reasonable, which services to get, and I told her the exact stats, the price to get, and to get none of the services. Sales man tried selling her a equal stat machine for 300 more and 200 in service. Apparently the sales guy kept saying stuff under his breath when she said "Let me call my son and ask him what he thinks?"


RE: wow
By rudolphna on 6/10/2011 3:43:41 PM , Rating: 3
Best Buy is in the business of making money. Unfortunately there is no profit on Computers, TVs, etc. Most of our money is made on accessories, services, and protection plans. Newegg has a LOT fewer employees to pay, and also don't have to cover costs of brick and mortar stores.


RE: wow
By Redwin on 6/10/2011 4:21:51 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Most of our money is made on accessories, services, and protection plans. Newegg has a LOT fewer employees to pay, and also don't have to cover costs of brick and mortar stores.

You know if you replace "services" with "late fees" and then replace "Newegg/Bestbuy" with "Netflix/Blockbuster"...

Just Sayin'


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