Last week Best Buy issued a cease and desist order to online electronics retailer Newegg over the latter company's use of the word "geek" in its latest advertising campaign. Best Buy's aggravation was also compounded by the similarities between its own Geek Squad Logo colors (orange, black and white) and Newegg's Geek On logo colors (also orange, black and white), and the similarities between Newegg's use of the "power on" symbol in "on" and Best Buy's tie-in-a-power-on-symbol.
Best Buy also wasn't happy about Newegg seemingly making fun of Best Buy employees in a recent TV ad.
"Best Buy has spent many years building goodwill in its distinctive GEEK SQUAD Mark, Geek Squad Trade Dress, and Tie and Power Design mark," the company said in the two-page letter. "As a result, these marks and trade dress have come to identify Best Buy's Geek Squad services to consumers around the country. Given Best Buy's substantial investment over the years in building equity in these marks and trade dress, Best Buy cannot permit activities which place that valuable goodwill at risk."
"Your misuse of our valuable trademarks and your negative portrayal of our employees violate our trademark rights and misleads consumers about our services, in violation of federal and state law" the company said further on in the letter. "While we welcome fair competition, we cannot tolerate unfair competition that disparages our employees, confuses our customers and damages our valuable trademarks and the goodwill associated with those marks."
On Tuesday Newegg responded to Best Buy's request, saying that it disagrees with the rival's claim of copyright infringement. "Best Buy neither owns nor has exclusive rights to use the word 'Geek,' and Best Buy neither owns nor has exclusive rights to use a general, unstylized computer power button icon.'
The letter also addressed Best Buy's concerns over the TV ad, saying that it doesn't constitute trade disparagement, but is merely a "comedic, tongue-in-cheek take" on a commonly understood customer experience. "[It] does not name, identify or focus on any particular retailer, and we believe that the actor portraying the salesperson is not 'slovenly' in any way," Newegg said.
But to make amends and not offend Best Buy and its employees, Newegg edited its TV spot with a disclaimer saying that the photoplay is a work of fiction, and that no animals were harmed in the making of the controversial commercial.