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February 4, 2007 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Government vs. Blogger A woman who has a breastfeeding blog tries to raise some money for the Mothers' Milk Bank of Ohio by selling a t-shirt containing a slogan that the National Pork Board finds to be an infringement of their trademark . Chaos ensues.
posted by flarbuse (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Here is an update: I have received an apology from Steve Murphy, the CEO of the National Pork Board and we are currently working toward a resolution.
posted by davar at 3:00 PM on February 4, 2007


Those shirts rule.
posted by papakwanz at 3:04 PM on February 4, 2007


Seems kind of ham-handed but nice of Mr. Murphy to have apologized. Hope they go forward and make a clean breast of it.
posted by hal9k at 3:08 PM on February 4, 2007


Jennifer Laycock.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:13 PM on February 4, 2007


Pretty sure parody falls under the category of free expression and is therefore protected by the First Amendment. More here. At least she got an apology.
posted by Brittanie at 3:28 PM on February 4, 2007


If she wants to upset a marketing board a little closer to home, she could try:

'Got milk?..... I do.'
posted by jamjam at 3:56 PM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, trademark law pretty much requires a cease-and-desist, even if it's deemed a "nastygram". Obviously there are cases where you can ignore a C&D, and cases where you need a lawyer yourself.

Maybe trademark law shouldn't be this way, but it is.
posted by dhartung at 4:29 PM on February 4, 2007


Breasts: Not Just for Selling Cars Anymore

ha!
posted by phrontist at 4:35 PM on February 4, 2007


Well, the woman was selling the t-shirts, not just giving them away. Essentially she was mooching off the popularity of the National Pork Board's slogan to make a profit. Seems to me she was in the wrong.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:48 PM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's a dumb question... couldn't these trademark holders offer cheap licenses to their trademarks for the purposes of legally defending their mark? Using this case as an example, could the Pork Board's attorneys say something like, "Hey, we're required by law to defend this, but we like your shirt. Please you send us $1 as a 'license fee' for the purposes of keeping our trademark valid and put X legal notice on the page where you're selling these"?
posted by MegoSteve at 4:48 PM on February 4, 2007


Pretty sure parody falls under the category of free expression and is therefore protected by the First Amendment.

In what way is this a parody? Isn't the point of a parody to, in some way, make fun of the original?
posted by aaronetc at 5:44 PM on February 4, 2007


Do they think I'm trying to an promote an adult breastfeeding fetish??!

Good point. That would be a bit like trying to sell coal to Newcastle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:03 PM on February 4, 2007


I don't really know if "chaos" ensued. Sounds like "bloggers get up in arms and lawyer up" happened instead. And she even got an apology out of it.
posted by drstein at 7:08 PM on February 4, 2007


Perhaps the chaos was nipped in the bud.
posted by artifarce at 7:30 PM on February 4, 2007


i'm a little bored and i dislike national corporate advertising entities funded out of what i pay for food, so here's what i'm gonna do...

from now on, i'm gonna call my dick "the tastiest other white meat." if i get a nastygram from the pork industry, i'll post it on metafilter.
posted by bruce at 7:51 PM on February 4, 2007


"Apparently the National Pork Board is worried that someone might come to my breastfeeding blog, check out the shirts and worry that when I say "white milk" what I really mean is "thick and juicy, straight from the hog PORK." Come on now, be honest...were you confused? Because I sort of thought I was comparing breastmilk (which just happens to be white) with the milk of a variety of other animals (cows? goats?) that happen to produce white milk (not kangaroos though, their milk is pink) and that often gets fed to infants INSTEAD of breast milk."

I don't think they have a porkchop to stand on and they're just being boobs.

Love her feistiness, sense of humor and her conflation of words, lactating+ activist= lactivist. You go girl!
posted by nickyskye at 8:09 PM on February 4, 2007


Aaronetc —

From the link I posted previously:

A parody is also an attack on folly, but it takes the form of a contemptuous imitation of an existing artistic production — usually a serious work of literature, music, artwork or film — for satirical or humorous purposes.

So, parody can be social commentary or simply done for the sake of humor. That's why programs like SNL are protected when, for example, they make fun of "The View." What I don't understand is that the First Amendment only applies to censorship by gov't, but all the cases I know of in which parody was deemed protected involve one non-gov't group (or person) suing another. The same is true for all the cases in the previous link.

One of my journalism professors was involved in this landmark baseball card parody case. He worked for the company that made the fake cards.
posted by Brittanie at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2007


Right, but this isn't exactly making fun of "the other white meat" or the pork industry, is it? It's just replacing the object word from another slogan with "milk," as far as I can see. I'm not saying they shouldn't be allowed to use it in general or on the merits, just that a parody defense seems like a stretch, since they don't appear to be parodizing anything.
posted by aaronetc at 8:37 PM on February 4, 2007


Parody doesn't have to target the object being imitated. It can target another subject — in this case, people who are uptight about breast feeding. This definition says that parody can be used for comedic effect *or* ridicule, so by the loosest definition, parody doesn't have to carry any message at all. It just has to be based on some other known subject.
posted by Brittanie at 8:52 PM on February 4, 2007


Um, doesn't parody as a form of fair use apply to copyright, not trademarks?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on February 4, 2007


I'm with Big Pork
posted by matteo at 5:14 AM on February 5, 2007


I'm with Big Pork

Now someone put that on a t-shirt.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:23 AM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Government vs. Blogger

The National Pork Board is not governmental.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:31 AM on February 5, 2007


"Here's a dumb question... couldn't these trademark holders offer cheap licenses to their trademarks for the purposes of legally defending their mark?..."

MegoSteve

I don't think that's a dumb question at all - yours is the best solution I've read to these totally anal and unattractive corporate eruptions.

And it doesn't even add another layer of regulations to the anal corporate entity - since they're already wasting their time with the original letters of complaint.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:00 AM on February 5, 2007


The National Pork Board is not governmental.

Oddly, this exact sentence begins all of the National Pork Board's PR literature.
posted by effwerd at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2007




"Parody doesn't have to target the object being imitated. It can target another subject"

That was not the impression I got from the fall-out over Penny Arcade's American McGee/Strawberry Shortcake kerfuffle.
posted by Auz at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2007


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