Monster Energy sues fishing gear company over customer confusion
from monster-mash department
Normally when discussing a company that has appeared on our pages before for being a brand bully, I like to list and link to a few examples. Monster Energy, the company that makes fizzy caffeine bombs in liquid form, makes this all very silly. Just look at all the stories we’ve done about the company to see why: there are simply too many to choose from. I could be convinced that the company was, in fact, doing some kind of cutting-edge piece of art highlighting the horrors of the brand bully if I weren’t so knowledgeable about the overall ridiculous Monster behavior.
And here we are again. Monster Energy sued Slimecat Rods, a fishing gear company, for trademark infringement, among other things. Why? Well, some equipment qualifies as “monster” equipment.
The defendants are allegedly involved in the manufacture, design and marketing of fishing gear. Plaintiff alleges that their products use trademarks and trade dress similar to those of Monster in a manner that may confuse consumers. The stylization and color scheme of the defendant’s logo allegedly creates a “strikingly similar commercial impression” to that of Monster.
Since defendants allegedly market their products to a similar audience to plaintiffs, Monster says they are likely to cause “confusion, error and deception among the relevant consumer public.” Monster believes that if the misconduct continues, they will suffer damage and irreparable harm to their reputation.
There are two things we need to tackle here: the similarity of trade dress and the whole “similar audience” claim. As for the similarity of marks, Monster Energy does what it always does in these combinations and spends several pages listing all of its marks on the word “monster” and embedding a bunch of images showing those marks in commerce . Then, as is again typical, it shows the “counterfeit” marks to show how similar they are. For example:
Confused? Me too! This is nothing like Monster Energy’s overall brand image. Nothing about it would puzzle anyone looking to catch fish. The Slimecat name is prominently displayed on the branding. Everything is very distinct. But Monster’s costume calls this use “mistake-like”. If that doesn’t sound absurd to you, the problem lies with you.
Not content with making such silly claims, Monster goes on to note that both companies use green and black coloring in their branding, before diving ridiculously deep into the similarity. some of the letters are in the police.
Again, if you think these are extremely similar in terms of font difference, you’re the problem, not Slimecat.
But wait, I hear you saying, Monster makes drinks and clothes, not fishing gear. These aren’t in the same market, so branding shouldn’t really apply. Well, Monster’s answer to that is that they sponsor fishing and outdoor events. Yes really.
Since 2019, Monster has also been the official and exclusive energy drink sponsor of the American Bass Anglers, Inc. (ABA) tournament course and has been featured at the ABA Open Series. Each ABA Open Series division offers four one-day qualifying events in a boater/co-fisherman format. Monster was also featured as a sponsor of the Ultimate Bass Team Tour, including its Tournament of Champions on Lake Mohave. Photographic examples of these events are shown below.
But this is not the same as directly using the marks in commerce by supplying a product or service in a certain category. KIA is not suddenly into basketball because it sponsors the NBA. I’ve seen this tactic attempted by other companies in the past and don’t recall it ever working.
And, when you put that alongside the spurious nature of the rest of Monster’s claims, it all comes across as bullying at best, or downright stupid at worst. So, you know, about equal over Monster Energy.
Filed Under: energy drinks, peach, brand, brand bullying
Companies: Monster Energy, Slimecat Rods