Trademark Question

Many names are trademarked, Pontiac for instance.
How does a trademarked name protect against derivative names or similar.

Could Pontiac for instance go after someone who used the words

Poiny Yak
or
Pontiak

in a promotion?

If there is a general web address on such questions please supply it.

This is a general question, and no legal advice is sought.

http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm

That link seemed to be all about gaining and keeping trademarks. I am wondering more about the ledal status of something derived from an existant trademark.

Could someone bring out a drink called cola-coca or would that name by itself impinge on the Coca-Cola trademark? (assuming that noone had trademarked “cola-coca” itself.

The general rule is that anything that can be construed to cause confusion about the trademark may be pursued.

What constitutes confusion keeps large numbers of lawyers in practice. Most firms will send out a cease and desist letter at the slightest resemblance. Whether it’s worth fighting is totally case-by-case.

In general, again, any company in a business related to automobiles could not use any term that is too similar to Pontiac. However, unrelated businesses in Pontiac, Michigan, can and do use the name. The online Yellow Pages shows dozens of Pontiac named businesses.

Similarly, there are many products named Cadillac, for example, including a Cadillac dog food.

Parody is a legitimate defense in copyright issues, but is less of one when it comes to trademarks. Since graphics are also trademarked, the use of a graphic could be prosecuted in a Pointy Yac parody.

Coke has prosecuted hundreds of similarly-named products. Cola Coca would certainly be prosecutable.

I don’t think there’s a way to answer this question for a particular case not as obvious as that one without asking an intellectual property lawyer.

Thanks. I was wondering how it worked, guess its one of those things where a lawyer is always required.

A quick earch doesn’t turn up Cola Coca, but someone did trademark Sol a’Cola back in 87 for a sun tan oil product. The mark looked remarkably like the Coca Cola script mark. Not surprisingly, the Sol a’Cola trademark was abandoned within 6 months.

Maybe there is hope for Coca Koala the Australian soft drink I just invented :slight_smile:

Wrong way around. Cola is a generic term. You could get away with Koala Cola but not Coca Koala.

Or maybe not:
http://www.ip-institute.org.uk/pub.html

Proving once again that reality has become impossible to satirize. Also true if you google for “coca koala.”