In 2006, rock band OK Go released a music video for their song “Here It Goes Again,” which featured the band members running back and forth on four treadmills set up side-by-side in what looks like an unfinished basement. The video went viral, and has garnered over 60 million views on YouTube to date – I know I was responsible for at least 100 of those views. Recently, though, the band found itself in a quickly escalating trademark dispute with cereal manufacturer Post Foods over its OK Go! On-The-Go Cereal Bowls, making us ask the question – would someone really think that this band is now in the business of selling (or at least endorsing) cereal?
This dispute seems to have started in September 2022, when OK Go’s counsel sent Post Foods a cease and desist letter demanding that Post abandon its published trademark application for the mark OK GO! (Appl. No. 97394932), covering “Breakfast cereals; Cereal-based snack foods” in Class 30, based on a claim of false association. Post denied the allegations, and OK Go requested extensions of time to oppose Post’s registration of the mark.
Then, things took a turn – Post filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment against the band in district court in Minnesota on January 13, 2023, asking the court to declare that Post’s use of its OK GO! mark in connection with its cereal does not violate any of the band’s rights in its own mark. This move did not hold up well in the court of public opinion, with fellow indie band They Might Be Giants tweeting that the band was being sued by Post “for their name, even though they had it long before Post did. Crazy and wrong but true!”
From a legal point of view, Post’s actions make sense – Post likely wants to settle this matter quickly, so that it can continue to invest in its new cereal product without an ongoing threat of litigation by OK Go. However, in the court of public opinion – one that doesn’t always appreciate the nuances of trademark law – it does look like Post is suing the band for its name. And as for the question – would someone really think that OK Go is in the business of selling or endorsing cereal? Anyone familiar with OK Go’s 2011 partnership with Post on a series of promotional videos for its Honey Bunches of Oats cereal brand may argue yes, but that question is now up to the actual court to decide.
This article appeared in the January 2023 issue of MarkIt to Market®. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.