IP Infringement Heavyweights: Angry Birds, Lady Gaga and McDonald's

Post date: Mar 8, 2011 9:25:21 PM

(1) Unless you still have a Nokia 3310 and you play Snake 2 all the time (speaking of, that game was great), you have probably played Angry Birds. Angry Birds is, simply put, a very fun and addictive game for the iPhone and other smartphones...except Blackberry. Because of this lack of Angry Birds for Blackberry, one game developer saw a golden [egg] opportunity and created "Angry Farm" (pictured left) to fill the obvious need for a gravity-based, crush-the-castle type game. From looking at the picture, the differences are very obvious: instead of birds they are using farm animals and instead of destroying pigs like Angry Birds, they are destroying foxes/foxen in Angry Farm. Seriously, is there any way the two games can be confused?! As far as I can tell, Angry Farm is still available to purchase for Blackberry. I would get it now if you are interested though because I doubt it will stick around too long once Angry Birds sends a lawsuit/letter flying towards Angry Farm.Source: AppScout

(2) Here's the short version of the story: Happy’s Pizza Company is a restaurant chain with approximately 65 locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. Happy's has multiple trademark registrations under their belt, including HAPPY'S PIZZA, HAPPY SUBS and HAPPY WINGS. You can probably see where this is going. There is this other, fairly large restaurant chain that sells a popular menu item called the Happy Meal. When this large chain, known as McDonald's, found out that Happy's was trying to get trademark registration of HAPPY BURGER, they decided to step in. McDonald's argued that HAPPY BURGER would cause confusion with their trademark of HAPPY MEAL, which I think is a fairly strong argument. Not to mention the fact that Happy's actually uses the term "happy meal" when talking about their burger:

For more details on this situation, check out Your Trademark Attorney Blog -- a very informative site run by a St. Louis trademark attorney.(3) There are few things that I enjoy as much Lady Gaga and ice cream (e.g., pizza, Ke$ha), so it shouldn't be surprising that I am writing about a story that involves them both. Apparently Lady Gaga is threatening to sue a London-based ice cream shop for their use of the term "Baby Gaga" on one of their products. What's even more interesting is that this ice cream is made from real human breast milk. Awesome. From a legal standpoint, I can see both sides here. On one hand, Lady Gaga is world-famous and anything containing "gaga" is sure to bring up thoughts of the outlandish musician. As you may remember, however, the strength of the trademark isn't the only thing that matters. "Gaga" is also a common term used in reference to babies, well before Lady Gaga was doing her thing.

I ran a quick search for "gaga" on the USPTO database and it returned 84 different records. This isn't a smoking gun by any means, but it does show that the term "gaga" isn't completely unique to Lady Gaga. Another thing going against her is that I am assuming she is unlikely to start dabbling in the ice cream/food industry. As an interesting side note, the ice cream has been pulled from the shelves due to health concerns by the city council.