After receiving harsh criticism, Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery terminated ties with the lawyers it retained to defend its trademark on the term mochi muffin. In a statement shared on social media, the bakery’s proprietors asserted that the third-party legal firm’s most recent actions were inconsistent with their values and the reasons they originally applied for the trademark. They added that they are reassessing what it means to acquire such a property and the importance of this trademark to their primary goal of establishing Third Culture Bakery. They also promised to follow up in the coming days and sincerely apologize to anyone they may have harmed due to their foolish and impolite conduct. They claimed they applied for the trademark after learning that a wholesale customer of Third Cultures who purchased mochi muffins from them planned to manufacture its version of the baked good under the same name. The Mochi muffin trademark was given to Third Culture in 2018.
A descriptive trademark granted
The main issue is that Third Culture Bakery was permitted to use a trademark that only defines its goods. By just mentioning their baked goods, any other bakery offering comparable product would virtually be locked in an infringement zone. To be truthful, trademark was not authorized in the main trademark registration.
Principal Register vs. Supplemental Register
These registers classify the various distinguishing characteristics of trademarks. For example, the golden arches from McDonald’s, Target sign, or the Apple computer emblem are significant trademarks that immediately spring to mind when you hear the company name. They are distinctive marks that quickly identify a single firm.
On the other hand, the supplemental register was created for markings that are not strong enough or distinctive enough to get that traction. Typically, this indicates that they are more descriptive in style. You might have difficulty in registering it as anything more than supplemental if you founded a shoe brand and named the shoes comfortable footwear.
Why even provide an additional trademark registration? If the proprietor of the supplement trademark is successful in a legal battle against a suspected infringer, it does offer some restricted rights, such as injunctive relief. This is a big IF because the mark is weak, to begin with.
Trademark vs. Trade Secret
According to one account regarding this occurrence, Third Culture Bakery might have been looking to preserve its trade secrets. This has a case in favor of it.Third Culture Bakery indicated that they moved to obtain a secondary trademark registration to safeguard their most well-liked and profitable baked item. They did not want other bakeries to produce the same thing and take away customers from them and increase their sales.
Taking the necessary procedures to protect their unique mochi muffin recipe as a trade secret would have given them the protection they required. When the uproar has subsided, they may consider doing this as a following step.
Remember the Value of Distinct Trademarks
Let this situation serve as a general reminder that you should be as detailed, distinctive, and memorable as possible when choosing a trademark for your company. Look up the various trademark strengths, such as whimsical, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic, and, if feasible, strive for the first two characteristics. It is worthwhile to invest additional work at the start of your firm in developing a mark that will endure, fulfill its function as a source identifier, and offer commercial distinctiveness and protection.
Impact of the Third Culture
The declaration was made in response to an uproar over the well-known Bay Area bakery. There is an intention to trademark the term mochi muffin and to demand that bakeries and food bloggers around the nation discontinue using the term through cease-and-desist letters. Third Culture is compelled by U.S. trademark law to protect its trademark passionately. Still, when word of the letters spread, customers and bakers shocked by the bakery’s conduct expressed their outrage. Yelp, Google, and social media accounts for Third Culture have been flooded with critical remarks and boycott requests. The owners asked the public to avoid harassing the baker staff in their statement and condemned the fake evaluations that destroyed Third Culture’s Yelp profiles.
They responded to criticism that trademark protection would hurt companies that were forced to modify their baked goods’ names after receiving cease-and-desist letters warning that using the phrase mochi muffin is not legal and violates trademarks. There were no cases where they threatened someone’s life or business or attempted to close a small business.
The majority of business owners who got cease-and-desist letters swiftly agreed because they feared incurring expensive legal fees, according to business owners who spoke with the Chronicle. Records show that a San Diego bakery Stella + Mochi, attempted to challenge the trademark in 2019 by submitting a petition to revoke Third Culture’s mochi muffin trademark. With demands for a jury trial and monetary relief, Southern California law firm Rutan and Tucker officially complained on behalf of Third Culture in the United States district court of Southern California. After receiving a lot of criticism, Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery severed connections with the attorneys it had retained to defend its trademark for the word mochi muffin. The lawsuit was resolved quickly and without going to court.