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back to article Best Buy slaps 'God Squad' priest with cease-and-desist order

Best Buy is pursuing an American god botherer who ripped off the company’s Geek Squad logo. Father Luke Strand at the Holy Family Parish in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, had his collar felt after he slapped a sticker carrying the name “God Squad” on his black Volkswagen Beetle. Best Buy sent a cease-and-desist letter to Strand …

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Linux

Better not have my trademark GOD in it

cos I also aggresively defend my intellectual property. Oh and I just copyrighted all the vowels in the English Langauage too.

Maybe Shakespeare had a point..let's kill all the lawyers.

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Headmaster

>> kill all the lawyers

Shakespeare did indeed have point - let's look at that commonly used quote in context:

>> CADE

>>

>> I thank you, good people: there shall be no money;

>> all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will

>> apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree

>> like brothers and worship me their lord.

>>

>> DICK

>>

>> The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

>>

>> CADE

>>

>> Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable

>> thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should

>> be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled

>> o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:

>> but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal

>> once to a thing, and I was never mine own man

>> since.

So these are desperate revolutionaries intent upon establishing themselves as the new power in land, and for this they need (among other things) the suspension of the practice of law (and existing order)

Still feel like subscribing to their newsletter?

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FAIL

Way to miss the point...

"Best Buy sent a cease-and-desist letter to Strand earlier this month demanding that he remove the sticker as ==> the logo on it bears a strong resemblance<== to the company’s Geek Squad badge." One can't copyright common words -- it's the "look and feel" of the logo that they're protecting.

Even a non-profit organization can't use a logo that resembles another company/organization's. If some fly-by-night company used a logo that was made to resemble BB's -- "Tech Squad", say, in similar fonts and colors -- and put it on a VW Beetle (as GS uses and as the good Father owns), they would be in violation of of BB's copyrights and trademarks. It would be the same as, say, Pepsi-Cola selling its product in Coca-Cola's distinctively-shaped bottles.. You may want to look at the concept of "trade dress" -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_dress

As the Best Buy spokesman said, "... at the end of the day, it's bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others." In point of fact, NOT pursuing infringements can result in the trade dress losing its protection and, hence, the brand identity (and, hopefully, good will) that the company had spent millions to establish. If they don't want their competitors riding their coattails with look-alike branding they HAVE to aggressively protect their brand -- even from use by non-competing, non-profit (Yeah, it's the Catholic Church; don't go there...) organizations.

And, to give credit where it's due, if "...the company has been working with Strand to make a logo that doesn't infringe on the Geek Squad trademark," that's different from parachuting a Goon Squad™ of lawyers into Fr. Strand's parish. It sounds like they're using their designers to create something that doesn't infringe AND looks good for Fr. Strand. If that's the case, then good on them!

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>> kill all the lawyers

But Shakespeare intended a solid dig at lawyers. In ‘King Henry VI, Part 2’, Act 4, Scene II, Cade promises utopia with, ‘seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; …’ and continues in this vein as above, which Dick ends with the punchine, ‘let’s kill all the lawyers’—because it won’t be Utopia if there are lawyers, *obviously*… The dig at lawyers continues in the next line with ‘Some say the bees stings; but I say, ’tis the bee’s wax’, a modern rendering of which would be, ‘Some rob with a gun, others with a pen’. It is unlikely that Shakespeare meant to defend lawyers with these lines, nor was this his only play containing digs at lawyers.

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Grenade

Yes, let's kill the lawyers

because after looking at the way the law is mangled and degraded by some of these 'people', it is probably the best option.

(other than taking off and nuking them from orbit)

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Pint

You own a Hong Kong furniture shop chain?

GOD (apparently standing for Goods Of Desire) is the name of a chain of furniture shops here. I regret not taking a picture of the GOD outlet next to the, now disappeared, Zen restaurant.

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Anonymous Coward

Fuckwit

You can't register as trademarks letters or dictionary words.

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Coat

You forgot

Our Heavenly Father!

I repent! <That's on my coat!

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Anonymous Coward

choices, choices

Who would you rather spend 10 minutes talking to on the phone.?

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Joke

RE: choices, choices

Are you suggesting they hire God to act as phone support?

On the plus side he is supposed to omnipotent so there should be any waiting to get an answer.

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Joke

Insurance?

I wonder what it says on Best Buy's Insurance policy as regards an "act of God"?

They might want to drop this one........

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Grenade

Mother Tucker

If your religion is really that good then let people go to church on their own.

Don't stand in a shopping centre handing out fliers or going door to door (I'm talking to you Jehovas witnesses)

So likewise, don't steal copyright work and preach about the ten commandments, which includes not stealing.

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Anonymous Coward

"He is working with Best Buy to resolve the issue."

Can he not peel the sticker off on his own then?

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Silver badge

A bit harsh...

One would expect God to be taking advantage of modern technology and so have installed spam filter technology on His PrayerNet to weed out most of the trivial stuff so He's probably not being bothered at all.

Mind you, with all the coverage of this one, it'll probably come up on a GODGLEWatch alert.

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God Squad vs Goon Squad

Minnesota-based Best Buy’s PR boss Paula Baldwin said,,,,, "It sent the cease-and-desist letter to Strand “because of the unfortunate similarities between their logo and ours. "This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it's bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others."

I too struggled because of the unfortunate similarities between the products sold at Best Buy and their competitors. But, at the end of the day, I decided its bad precedent to deal with a company that has leaders so obviously devoid of leadership. This issue should have been settled in-house without the adverse publicity. Reminds me of the current firestorm over the Manhattan Mosque....the American people are tired of hearing "legalistic nonsense." BB doesn't deserve my business any more than Obama deserves my vote.

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Joke

OK..

"Glory to the Father, and unto the Son, and into the hole he goes."

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It Could Have Been

Now, if some group Best Buy didn't appreciate has made the mistake of copying their logo... but groups like Repent Amarillo know how unpopular they are, and so they steer clear of giving the rest of society another opportunity to stop them.

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Trying to understand the legal basis of this claim

The real question here is if Mr. Strand, in putting this sticker on his car, is acting as a private individual or as a representative of his church. Seems to me that the case that this is a trademark issue between his church and Best Buy is at best specious.

No matter what we may think about Mr. Strand, his church, or his religion - the legal precedents seem to imply this is a free speech issue and that Best Buy would be hard pressed to win if this dispute went to trial. If I were Mr. Strand's lawyer, I would argue - and rightly so I might add - that his remake of the Geek Squad logo was a simple parody and reference the wealth of precedent from Starbucks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starbucks#Parodies_and_infringements) to back it up.

If he also had an advertisement on his vehicle for his church, or was using the parodied logo to otherwise sell goods and services, or was selling the stickers... it might not be so clear cut.

That said, trademark lawsuits here have gone haywire lately with more-money-than-Apple charity "Susan G, Komen Race for the Cure" suing other charities using the term "for the cure" in their pursuit to cure obviously less important illnesses and issues.

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Joke

I think the priest missed a trick

God created everything, therefore the Church can claim prior art on well everything really

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Joke

So umm...question here

When did Best Buy get into the God market? Surely they cant have similarities when it comes to religion?

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FAIL

Mike Moyle

It's nowhere near similar to Pepsico selling their cola in Coca-Cola's bottles.

If glove is to hand, so sock is to...?

Father Strand is a man of the cloth and Best Buy are a retailer.

I would be like, oh, I dunno, an artist using something similar to the Coca-Cola ribbon device in a painting and titling it 'The Surreal Thing'

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WTF?

Tough luck!

God's a big lad, I'm sure he could take care of this if he was that bothered, until then tough luck!

Don't forget you lot asking for BB to be blasted for this, you are protected by the same laws and if you designed something and copyrighted/trademarked it, you too have a right to protect it from large corps as much as individuals. Wouldn't like it if took a photo and the bloke next door decided to start selling down the market for £50 a time would you? Same thing applies here, IF it's sufficiently similar as to cause confusion amongst the great unwashed, then tough luck.

Sick of the fact everytime some little guy gets supposedly picked on by a corp, it has be a David and Goliath thing. Sorry but the laws are designed to help everyone, it's up to you to use them correctly, which means as a individual you have to do more leg work than a huge corp as you have less funds and resources, but you still have the same rights.

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title

I agree with most of what you said, and you're right to lament the unreasonable hatred toward companies.

The issue is that (at least in the article) there is no mention of the priest selling or profiting off of use of the logo. That puts it in more of a questionable position as far as copyright infringement versus parody/fair use.

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Joke

Best Buy showing their true colors

This is clearly a case of Best Buy showing their true colors. Enforcing a trademark against someone who isnt in their trade (trademarks are only enforceable within ones trade), and doing so against a man of the cloth.

I wouldnt want to be a best buy exec or lawyer come judgment day... I can picture it now, St Peter comes barreling down the road, picking up passengers in the Pearly Gates Express when he come upon best buy headquarters, seeing all the execs standing at the bus stop, he floors it, driving thru the mud puddle next to them and laughing, as he covers them all in mud, he says over the loud speaker: you're kidding, right?, your bus is the red one!

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Is it just me...

...or did anyone else read his licence plate as "GODIVA"?

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License it...

Surely they could have sent a cease and desist or license it letter instead of just a cease and desist...

Besides, even if it doesn't say Best Buy and instead promotes a church, most people in areas Best Buy serve will still associate the logo with Best Buy, thus causing Best Buy to be what they think of.

Kind of like when you see a red label with a ribbony font and think of Coke, even if it says "Joe's Plumbing".

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FAIL

Make's sense

I can see how the God Squad is infringing on the Geek Squad's territory.

Not only is the logo similar, but so is the line of business. Both the Geek Squad and the God Squad claim they can fix all sorts of things, and both seem incapable of doing so.

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Thumb Down

BB R late

God Squad was and probably still is a parachurch biker mob in the Antipodes and have been so for about 40 years. Prior art ?

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Anonymous Coward

Not just the words

Read the story again (and some of the earlier posts) it's not just the name, it's the similarity of the logo design. Essentially all the priest in question has done is replace the work Geek in the logo with the word God. Had he used the name GodSquad with a completely different logo design I suspect that he would not have run into trouble.

My personal view is that the whole action is very wise. The use of the logo may well give the impression that the GeekSquad are affiliated with or somehow support the church in question. Straight away that would cost them business, members of any other church or religion may not want to do business with GeekSquad or BB as a result. I'm also pretty damned sure that most atheists and even agnostics (lily livered ponces that they are) would steer clear of any business that affiliated itself with a church. I certainly wouldn't do business with any company that I knew was in any way supporting the Catholic Church.

We're not just talking about church type religions here either. I know people who won't do business with companies who sponsor sports teams other than their own.

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Dead Vulture

god botherer

Isn't this rather bigoted of you

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Coat

God Botherer

Actually, I wouldn't have a problem if they want to bother God. I only have a problem if they want to bother me.

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Silver badge

Trademark, copyright, and patent law in the US need to be rewritten from the ground up.

There are legitimate reasons for both, but the proliferation of similar, overlapping, and conflicting laws on both issues have gotten so Gordian knotted only the clean cutting sword of complete replacement can untangle them.

If this were purely a trademark issue, the completely different markets would invalidate a trademark complaint. If this is a copyright issue BB has a more significant legal complaint. The question at that point becomes "how different is different enough?" The logos do appear similar in type font, relative sizing of the font and background shape. On the other hand BB, at least in my area, uses an orange background which the God Squad doesn't (maybe because issues before God are always black and white?). Regardless of which complaint, in the BB is obligated to send a cease and desist letter. The letter may hint at the possibility of licensing but it can't demand it. Complicating the issue is that unlike patents, both copyright and trademark require aggressive defense to protect.

Coming back to my original point, BB's lawyers getting confused on exactly what infringement is being alleged is sufficient proof for me that even lawyers can no longer keep our mess of laws straight so they need to be junked as unworkable and we start fresh.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't know US law.

In English law there appears to be a case to answer here of passing off, don't know if there is an equivalent in US law.

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Thumb Up

Where's the beef, whre the logo pictures, please add to aricle

HI, when I saw the headline, I thought Besy Buy was complaining about Geek Squad and God Squad because of the words squad. Home Depot tryied to get Office Depot to change their name but lost in court, because Depot is a common word. It would be nice to see the logos to compare. In this case Best Buy has the right to complain.

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www.godsquad.com

Hi, hey guys there is another God Squad, its Campus Crusaders for Christ, a long time Chritian organization. They have a nice logo but it looks ok.

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Joke

Huh?

Won't this fall pretty cleanly under the parody exemptions? And if the GodSquadder isn't profiting by selling the stickers I think they have no recourse.

Icon for BestBuy's benefit

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FAIL

God geek

I think the point is the way Squad is written in the logo is the same as in Geek Squad. If he had not done that he most likely would have been OK

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