Tuesday, March 04, 2014

B Strong. (See you in court, maybe.)

As we approach the first anniversary of the Marathon Bombings, we’re all gearing up for what will no doubt be 24/7 look backs saturating the media.

One of the things that came out of this horrific event was the widespread use – mostly for purposes of Boston Strongfund-raising for the victims – of the phrase Boston Strong. And the adoption of the Red Sox – again for fund raising - of a variant that used their distinctive,  instantly recognizable – at least to anyone who lives in New England and/or is a baseball fan -  logo.

You can’t walk the streets of Boston these days without running across a few folks wearing caps sporting these logos.

But deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a group called the Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation that has been using B Strong for a number of years.

Gary Aboud of the Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation trademarked the B STRONG logo almost seven years ago after Braden died in 2007. He told the El Paso Times that he’s been in legal discussions with the team for several months about their use of the logo. The Red Sox started using the B Strong logo after last year's Boston Marathon.

"We're atbraden aboud an impasse and I'm afraid soon we will be going to court over it," Gary said. "It's a David versus Goliath battle."

The foundation has issued cease-and-desist letters to other organizations in the past about using B Strong.

"They are not willing to give it up because they feel there is no marketing confusion," Gary Aboud said. "There is value to it because they don't want to give it up and they are not willing to cease and desist. They have sold that on merchandise and made money over it. They give the money to charities, but we're not included on that list." (Source: UPI)

With all sympathies to Mr. Aboud, who set the foundation up to honor his son, who died  at the far too young age of 14, there are a couple of key points in the above.

“They are not willing to give it up because they feel there is no marketing confusion.”

No surprise that they feel there is no marketing confusion. I suspect about 99.99% of anybody looking at these two logos would experience any marketing confusion, either.


“They give the money to charities, but we're not included on that list."

Bingo! It’s always about the Benjamins, isn’t it?

It would be nice of the Red Sox, who are rolling in the dough, to make a donation to Aboud’s foundation.

But people who donate to the Red Sox B Strong want the money to go to charities tied to the Boston Marathon bombings (or to Boston charities), not to some foundation that does its good works in El Paso.

Aboud said it’s possible the foundation will sue the Red Sox and Major League Baseball.

MLB! Hey, more deep pockets!

I understand why Mr. Aboud would want to bring more money into his foundation, and I guess if he had been canny enough to trademark B Strong, he has a claim on something or other. But this seems like a reverse on the idiocies we see when, say, Disney goes after parents who used Winnie-the-Pooh’s image on their child’s gravestone. It seems gratuitous, a waste of court time, and nothing but a shakedown.

The Red Sox issued a statement about the situation on Thursday:

"Until today's press report, the Red Sox had been unaware that the amicable discussions that were being had with the Braden Aboud Foundation were not progressing to resolve the matter," the statement said. "The Red Sox look forward to further such discussions and to a positive resolution -- one that would, among other things, allow our distinct charitable interests mutually and successfully to co-exist."

Of course, we’ve now heard of the Braden Foundation, which I suspect was not that widely known beyond the local community. Which may have been the whole point. Maybe Mr. Aboud is ctwitterounting on those who are sick and tired of Boston period to pony up for his group.

Meanwhile, maybe Mr. Aboud should B a bit concerned about the resemblance of his logo to another that is slightly more well known.

Tweet you in court!

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