Best Buy dislikes their product, hires lawyers that don’t know trademark law

IT Business, Legal, SMB
2 Comments

Have you ever been to a Best Buy and just left the place floored at how knowledgeable or expert the staff there is?

If you have, someone must be reading this post to you because there is NO way you can read.

Best Buy is to computer experts what Apple Genius is to a winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics. But when you need a power cord or an Xbox controller today, Best Buy is awesome and their college dropouts stuck working retail and living with their partents Geek’s sure know how to point in the right direction (sometimes).

Which makes the following cease and desist letter even funnier (click on the thumbnail for the full size).

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Here is the best part:

“We also recently learned that Newegg is running a commercial on television and Youtube depicting a blue-shirted salesperson in a store with a similar layout/color scheme to a Best Buy Store, so as to represent a Best Buy employee. The fake Best Buy employee is depicted as being slovenly and uniformed about computer products, in contrast to your employees who are portrayed as “experts””

Oh boy.

This is a textbook case of how not to settle a dispute.

First, no matter what you do, every cease and desist letter your company sends will be blasted all over the Internet – and mind you that this is not a real dispute – it’s one bunch of marketing weiners upset about being picked on by another bunch of marketing weiners. It could have been solved by putting the two parties in a room for an hour or so with a gallon of water – they would have reached a settlement in record time after realizing that a room full of marketing people can’t figure out how to work a door knob. But I digress.

Second, Best Buy owns a trademark on the Geek Squad. They are trying to shut down a Newegg marketing campaign that uses the word Geek (power icon) On. Umm. That’s not how the trademark law works.

Third, “Best Buy is concerned that Newegg’s use of the Geek On Logo is likely to create confusion among consumers and to dilute the distinctive quality of the Geek Squad Mark..” – Come ooooon! Now I know this was written by a marketing person. There is no distinctive quality to Geek Squad, it’s a laughing stock of the IT profession. If there was a confusion over Best Buy (overpriced and outdated electronics vs. other defunct business models of: CD store, DVD store, etc) and Newegg model – which focuses on low price, feedback from thousands of other people that bought the item, direct links to the manufacturers and prompt shipping – it would only help improve Best Buy not hurt it.

Competition

The competition that Best Buy has with NewEgg is something that we as IT Solution Providers need to think about and watch closely. For the most part, cloud solutions are newegg – fast, agile, low overhead. IT Solution Providers on the other hand are brick and mortar, local establishments that work in the community.

But if your community is not aware of your effort, and the cloud thing is cheaper.. then what’s your value?

While the dispute between Best Buy and NewEgg is somewhat comical, the background is a real concern on the mind of many MSPs that I talk to on a daily basis – Microsoft’s launch of Office 365 will put a lot of MSPs on defense because direct marketing is so powerful. The whole notion of a “trusted” advisor is very difficult to assert when your client starts thinking that you’re robbing them when you provide so much more than the supposed flyer seems to be charging for.

Options seem clear: Start sending C&D letters with full assurance that you’ll be mocked for them online or start marketing your local expertise and value that delivers. I (and we) get a lot of our partners marketing materials and it’s shocking how few (almost none) of you stress the local part.

2 Responses to Best Buy dislikes their product, hires lawyers that don’t know trademark law

  1. Glen R says:

    I don’t know why Newegg would consider best buy a competitor.

    BB is where you go when you need something now, or you go when there is a good sale on some commodity hardware. Like an Xbox controller for example, but honestly I would just go to Wal-Mart to get that anyway.

    Newegg is where I go to get my professional items, Cisco, HP, desktop parts, etc.

    Really, best buy should be more worried about Wal-Mart. Being 24×7 Wal-Mart has all day and all night access to consumer grade networking and computer infrastructure. A small client has an emergency at 1am, replacement hardware comes from Wal-Mart, not best buy.
    LOL, Save money Support better, @ Wal-Mart.

  2. Vlad Mazek says:

    Glen,

    Thanks for reading & commenting.

    I agree, the consumer electronics world is moving fast and your CE essentials will pop up in Walmart/Target if there is a mass marketplace.

    I don’t think Best Buy considers them competition – though I’m sure .com side does – it’s more about promoting the marketing image Best Buy has built. From the looks and sound of it, it seems more like marketing folks got their feelings hurt and the lawyer tried to pull a fast one by claiming similarities between Geek On and Geek Squad.

    -Vlad

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