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Honey Badger do care — about trademark protection

Honey Badger do care — about trademark protection

The phrase “Honey Badger Don’t Care” may have trademark protection, says a federal appeals court in overturning a lower court ruling and reinstating a trademark lawsuit filed by the creator of a popular video against a greeting card company.

Plaintiff Christopher Gordon is the creator of a YouTube video known for its catchphrases “Honey Badger Don’t Care” and “Honey Badger Don’t Give a S---,” according to Monday’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in Christopher Gordon, an individual v. Drape Creative Inc., a Missouri corporation; Papyrus-Recycled Greetings Inc., an Illinois corporation.

The video features a honey badger aggressively attacking poisonous snakes and other animals in pursuit of food, with a sarcastic commentary by Mr. Gordon.

Mr. Gordon’s video quickly generated millions of views and became the subject of numerous pop culture references in television shows, magazines and social media, including nicknaming Louisiana State University football player Tyrann Mathieu “Honey Badger,” according to the ruling.

Mr. Gordon copyrighted his video’s narration under the title “Honey Badger Don’t Care” and in October 2011 began filing trademark applications for the phrase for various classes of goods, according to the ruling.

Beginning in June 2012, Papyrus-Recycled, a unit of Cleveland-based American Greetings Corp., and a design studio began developing their own line of unlicensed honey badger greeting cards, according to the ruling.

Mr. Gordon filed suit against the companies charging trademark infringement under the Lanham Act in U.S. District Court in Pasadena, California, which ruled in the defendants’ favor. The ruling was unanimously overturned by a three-judge appeals court panel.

This case “presents a triable issue of fact,” said the appeals court ruling. “Defendants have not used another’s mark in the creation of a song, photograph, video game, or television show, but have largely just pasted Gordon’s mark into their greeting cards.

“A jury could determine that defendants did not add any value protected by the First Amendment but merely appropriated the goodwill associated with Gordon’s mark,” said the ruling, in remanding the case for further proceedings.

In June, a U.S. appeals court revived Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s challenge to Coca-Cola Co.’s effort to register trademarks for soft drinks and sports drinks whose names contain the word “zero.” 





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