I predict this is going to end badly for Dov Seidman. Seidman, who uses “How Matters” as his content calling card, is suing Chobani yogurt for its new “How Matters” ad campaign. Seidman can win if he can show two things; First, that his trademark is distinctive enough to not be generic or descriptive of the product (i.e. legit), second, that Seidman’s customers are likely to be confused about links between Chobani yogurt and Seidman. I predict Seidman will fail on both counts. “How Matters” is a common way of explaining a broad process analysis – it is too customary to be owned and monopolized. Second, Seidman’s customers are going to be different from Chobani’s customers, if not in identity than in what they are looking for. Chobani could also stick a disclaimer on its ads about any endorsement by Seidman, but they probably won’t because that would be a concession that Seidman’s sitting on a strong trademark. Seidman probably understands all of this, but he has little choice but to sue Chobani.

Trademark is a use it or lose it power – if he failed to complain against Chobani, it could weaken his ability to fight encroachments in the future. So, these two groups are going to duke it out for awhile and the winner will be the trademark lawyers lapping up the fees. I do wonder, however, how much Seidman really stands to be hurt by Chobani’s actions. Is Seidman’s catch phrase really so valuable that a little dilution would hurt sales? Would buyers of his inspirational messages really be turned off by an association to yogurt? What if the yogurt maker was FAGE – would the higher quality yogurt help or hurt Seidman? I’m back to the same question I ask all the time: Is the fight worth it? Read more.

Story via NYTimes.com

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