This Mastercard parody
April 11, 2001 5:48 AM   Subscribe

This Mastercard parody has been on-line for two years, and Mastercard only recently requested its removal. Here is the hilarious response to the cease and desist. What I find amusing is that the MC lawyers never mention that they find the parody tasteless or offensive. Just that it violates their trademarks.
posted by goto11 (13 comments total)
Well of course not! Being tasteless or offensive isn't illegal - how do you think Jerry Springer and the WWF have lasted so long? I do like the repsonse, though. Clear case of satire/fair use.
posted by starvingartist at 6:00 AM on April 11, 2001

Wait 'til the Mastercard lawyers find out about the Limbo Lady!
posted by widget at 8:06 AM on April 11, 2001

Ralph Nader won a lawsuit filed by MasterCard against his campaign's use of the MasterCard ad formula. It ran as a TV spot, and was, indeed, "priceless." (Anyone have the link, please post.)
posted by mapalm at 8:09 AM on April 11, 2001

Until I get more confirmation, I'm going for "hoax". After all, if you look at the url, it is from april, and since it's the 11th today, it's from the beginning of april... Makes me suspcious at least... (Btw, the '01' in the url means 2001, not 01 april)
posted by fvw at 8:10 AM on April 11, 2001

I don't think this is a strong fair use case. Parody is one thing, but using their trademarked slogan, verbatim, is an infringement. MasterCard has a pretty clear right to define and regulate the usage of "...for everything else, there's MasterCard." They don't own the format of "blah blah -- $200" certainly, but by using that style in conjunction with the final phrase, a court would probably support MC's claim for the entire satire. If netfunny altered the trademarked phrase [say, dropping MasterCard entirely, since everyone understands the joke without it] they'll have precedent in their favor.

It is funny that MasterCard didn't pick up on this for two years, however.
posted by legibility at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2001

Nader Priceless
posted by tomplus2 at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2001

Additionally, MasterCard is the owner of U.S. service mark registrations for the marks "PRICELESS" (Reg. No. 2,370,508)

mapalm, they may come after you next for your malicious "dilution" of the impact of their word.
posted by gimli at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2001

gimli, you bring a smile to my face. i wouldn't be surprised if indeed they did.
posted by mapalm at 8:27 AM on April 11, 2001

Indeed; trademark registrations *do not protect you from parody*, as the Nader case shows. The impact of parody is *precisely* in it's conformance to the thing being parodied. If you're making fun of MasterCard, there's no practical way to *do* that without using the trademarked phrase.

They just picked the wrong guy to shoot at. Wired and such will be all over this in a week, or less.
posted by baylink at 11:30 AM on April 11, 2001

They definitely went after the wrong guy. Brad Templeton, who maintains the archive, is one of the net legends and will get the EFF on the case if Mastercard tries to take this to court...
posted by TNLNYC at 2:13 PM on April 11, 2001

So I suppose that they are next then???
posted by fooljay at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2001

I hope not. Thanks, fj.
posted by baylink at 12:09 PM on April 12, 2001

What I find amusing is that the MC lawyers never mention that they find the parody tasteless or offensive.

Because it's not their job to be the arbiters of taste; it's their job to advocate the legal position of MasterCard, and whether something is tasteless or offensive has no bearing whatsoever on the legal question of use of trademark.
posted by mikewas at 8:22 PM on April 12, 2001

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