Why teacakes that suck might hurt marketing consultancies

This link from Ars Technica, via the IPKat's friend Kristof Neefs (Altius), has sparked off an interesting issue. Says the IPKat, if the name of my marketing consultancy is, say, Kudos Consultancy, and someone else uses the word Kudos in a completely different field, let's say teacakes, on the assumption that neither of us is particularly well-known, neither of us can stop the other using the word Kudos. So far, so good. But what happens if the maker of teacakes gets a bad reputation among consumers, which spawns a rash of 'Kudos sucks' sites on the internet? After a while, anyone looking for my consultancy on a search engine and innocently keying in the search term 'kudos' will be deluged with kudos-sucks web links. This in turn may cause searchers to give up looking for entirely, or to view my excellent services in a somewhat suspicious manner, given that they have begun to associate them with the word 'sucks'.

The IPKat asks: what practical and legal advice would you give the IPKat in this situation?

Teacake recipes here and here
Why teacakes that suck might hurt marketing consultancies Why teacakes that suck might hurt marketing consultancies Reviewed by Jeremy on Saturday, February 14, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. A teacake is not a tea cake. You must let me entertain you to a tea sometime to demonstrate the difference.

  2. I think that goods of different classes should not have the same trade name as this can be confusing to the customer. I do think that there will arise many situations with same TM for different categories of goods which can impair the goodwill of the other. I beleive that the Indian courts are now-a-days trying to protect famous trade names even if they are for a dfferent class of goods. I wonder what happens if 2 famous goods X and Y with same trade marks A in 2 different categories of goods are exported from one country to other as export of X to country of origin of Y. In case of litigation, what does the court decide?

  3. Write a very nice letter to the teacake people suggesting that maybe they could produce teacakes which suck a little less ?

  4. In the words of Robin Jacob (L'Oreal 2007): 'The public are not stupid.'
    Morbid curiosity should drive those members of the public who come across the sucks sites to look at the content, after which it should become obvious. Context matters.
    Trade mark law is not about owning just the signifiers, but the whole shebang along with referents and signifieds as anchors. They can have the tea cake and you can eat it too!


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