Why is this Kat laughing once again (hint: it's all about another blue shirt in his wardrobe)?


This Kat has never been known for his sartorial distinction. But every (or at least most) rules has its exception and Kat readers may remember the exception to this rule, being the time that this Kat was mistaken for an employee of the local bus company (“Why is this Kat laughing (hint: it's all about his blue shirt)?”, here). No, it wasn’t about the elegance of his blue shirt, but rather the association that was made between it and the color of the typical shirt worn by the bus employees, never to happen again.

And so, by chance, once again this Kat found himself this week walking along the same outer perimeter of the same large outdoor bus terminal in Tel-Aviv. “Not to worry”, he reckoned; this time he was wearing a shirt of blue and white stripes, and the hue (or is tint, tone or shade?) of the color “blue” was demonstrably different from the blue shirt that he had worn on his previous eventful walk.
“Surely no one would approach him again asking for bus information.”
Strolling down the walkway, thinking (only) feline IP thoughts, he noticed in the distance a woman, who herself passed one, two and then three people walking in the opposite direction. This Kat nearly reached her, without giving any more thought, when she approached him and asked:
“Where do I catch the bus to the near-by hospital”?
Mirabile dictu, it had happened again. This time the information sought was not merely the location of the stop of a particular bus number (so the digital time schedule near-by would not be of any help). No, this was the kind of information that only someone intimately connected with the bus company would (should) know. The woman seemed to assume that the grandfather type wearing the blue and white- striped shirt approaching her (and carrying a black bag, actually two black bags, “didn’t some drivers carry a black bag”?) would certainly know the information. For her, “blue” meant bus company employee meant source of travel information.

This was so, even, at least to this Kat’s discerning eye, there is no confusing similarity between the color “blue” of the two shirts. Both may fall within the blue color spectrum, but they could clearly be distinguished. And yet, the kindly woman who approached me seemed to be of a different opinion.

All of this led this Kat to ruminate how this blue sartorial lightning had struck him twice. In the previous blog, this Kat suggested that the connection between the blue shirt and being an employee of the bus company could be explained by the virtual identity between the color “blue” of the two shirts and the specific location where the encounter took place, being a large outdoor bus terminal. But in this more recent occurrence, the respective color “blue” of the two shirts was discernibly distinguishable. And yet the connection was still being made with the bus company and its employees.

All of this suggests that the actual color as perceived was less important than the notion that bus company employees are identified in concept by the color “blue”. Anyone located in the outdoor bus terminal area, wearing a blue shirt, and otherwise appearing as a likely employee with the bus company, was identified as such.

Which led this Kat to recall that on a small number of occasions he has received an official action in a trademark matter, stating there was confusing similarity based on the identity of concept of the two marks. This Kat has long been skeptical about such a claim (and under his breath he was known to scoff; how could there be identity based on concept, such as the concept of the Republic of France, here and here) , much less based on the concept of a color?).

But the events of this week have led him to reconsider. Whether one blue shirt was actually similar to another may be less important than the concept that bus employees wear blue shirts of some kind (and they are likely to be found at a bus station).

All that is left for this Kat is to select another blue shirt from his wardrobe and contemplate taking yet a third stroll along the perimeter of that outdoor bus station.

By Neil Wilkof

Top two photos courtesy of Mrs. Kat.

Bottom photo from www.egged.co.il.
Why is this Kat laughing once again (hint: it's all about another blue shirt in his wardrobe)? Why is this Kat laughing  once again (hint: it's all about another blue shirt in his wardrobe)? Reviewed by Neil Wilkof on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 Rating: 5

5 comments:

Jonathan Turner said...

Maybe it's the Kat's face that looks like a bus driver's?

Michael Factor said...

Neil, its not the shirt. It's the peaked cap with Egged's badge on it and the ticketing machine that you carry that causes the confusion.

Kant said...

Maybe it is time for Neil to stop weakening the trade mark rights and stop wearing blue shirts?

Anonymous said...

This interesting post had me thinking a bit more on the trade dress concept. Rather than looking at the ‘colour’ alone, or the colour +location (bus station), probably it was the whole package that gave rise to such assumptions. You’ve nailed it in your passage ...”Anyone located in the outdoor bus terminal area, wearing a blue shirt, and otherwise appearing as a likely employee with the bus company, was identified as such”

So who and what decides the degree of likelihood? An art that is still being explored, tried and tested in the Courts. It would be interesting to research into the limits and boundaries of trademarks and trade dress and look forward any such posts from IPKat in future.

Rose Hughes said...

I can report a very similar Kat experience. This Kat's red shirt and black jeans was sufficient to confuse a lady at Euston Station into thinking the Kat was a member of the station staff. Perhaps it is the combination of the shirt colour and dark trousers that increases the likelihood of confusion?

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