National Pork Board Says: Breastfeeding Is A Viable Trademark Threat

Jennifer Laycock’s battle against the National Pork Board over her "The Other White Milk" slogan for breastfeeding t-shirts continues to pick up support. as you can see here at Techmeme. After I did my own write-up about the case yesterday, I followed my own advice and emailed the board. I just got their lame response:

Thank you for your email to the National Pork Board. We appreciate you taking the time to send us an email regarding our communication with "The Lactivist" webstore on CafePress.com about our trademark rights.

It is important to understand that our lawyer’s correspondence to Ms. Laycock was in no way intended to challenge or demean breastfeeding or those who support it. This correspondence is about defending our trademark and the National Pork Board’s responsibility to protect pork industry investments on behalf of the 70,000 US pork producers we represent. The Other White Meat® is a pork industry trademark whose value was built slowly and thoughtfully over 20 years, paid for by producer’s hard-earned dollars. Any infringement on that mark would substantially lessen its value and impact for US pork producers.

It’s also important to understand that the National Pork Board cannot pick and choose which infringement challenges it decides to address. We have a responsibility to the industry to challenge all viable infringements (and we do so on a weekly basis) or face the possibility of losing trademark protection and allowing the industry’s valued trademark to become public domain, and thus worthless.

Again, the National Pork Board takes no issue with your important cause. Our interest here was in protecting US pork producer’s investment in The Other White Meat® trademark. We apologize if our response seemed impersonal or harsh; that was not our intent. We will use all feedback that we receive to improve our communication processes in the future. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Sincerely,

Steve Murphy
Chief Executive Officer
The National Pork Board

Wow. Still not getting it. Yes, you can pick and choose infringement challenges. IE, you go after the viable and real threats. This one wasn’t. Fine, let the link bombs I suggested rip: Back Off National Pork Board! Heck, Jennifer’s already on page two for the terms.

Postscript: Link bomb now off and back to nofollow thanks to the apology the National Pork Board has given Jennifer.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building: Link Bombs | SEM Industry: Community

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://www.websiteadvice.com/blog Scott Clark

    The use of a trademarked phrase to amuse, and not to confuse, is a protected fair use, as a parody. This is pretty standard trademark law.

    Ok, so perhaps Mr. Murphy should look at all the harmless fun that’s been had with the “Got Root?” shirts: http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts/sysadmin/280d/

    The US Milk Advisory Board seems to be allowing the shirt to be marketed, but if I remember correctly, however, they sued Gateway Computer over the “Got Computer?” slogan used in an ad campaign.

  • http://www.tongen.com Wardo

    Danny, I got the same canned response to my email to the board. You gotta laugh at the phrase – “We apologize if our response seemed impersonal or harsh; that was not our intent”.

    Reminds me of the movie “You’ve Got Mail” when the character Kathleen (played by Meg Ryan) responds to a similar comment by Joe:
    “…but it’s personal to me, it’s personal to a lot of people…I mean, whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

    In response we are (personally) switching from ham to turkey sandwiches for Superbowl snacks tomorrow.

  • http://d.perry.googlepages.com DLPerry

    Nice bit of canned-ham. :)
    I got the same letter in response to my own email to the NPB.
    Danny I think you are still right – they still aren’t getting it – apology or not.
    Oh well.

  • http://d.perry.googlepages.com DLPerry

    Nice bit of canned-ham. :)
    I got the same letter in response to my own email to the NPB.
    Danny I think you are still right – they still aren’t getting it – apology or not.
    Oh well.

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