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A Little Back Story

You need a little back story for why online business ‘The Cup Artist’ could end up in legal trouble over recent media attention…. See ‘The Cup Artist’, hereafter ‘Cuppy’ who appears to run most of their business on Instagram (a post for another day), has capitalized on the pop culture cautionary tale hero, who has captured media attention for drinking wine out of a Pringles container in the Walmart parking lot at 6:30 am and joyriding an electronic shopping cart, you know, just living her best. Well, our hero apparently got banned from Walmart. Yup, fucking banned….have you ever seen People of Walmart?  I am shook that this incident resulted in a LIFETIME BAN from Walmart. But that isn’t my point, it’s just the backstory.

The Tea from Today

Today I started seeing the media attention for Cuppy, who sells custom powder coated drinking cups according to the business Instagram page. A quick glance at said page shows she is selling swag with the logos of Jeep, State Farm, Pringles, GE, LuLaRoe etc. Now, from a company that doesn’t have a Privacy Policy on their website (you know how I feel about that), how much do you want to bet that Cuppy has permission to reproduce and sell these logos? All, I will bet you all the money that this shop doesn’t have the licensing agreements for this. You may be thinking ‘Really Emily, a licensing agreement’….yes! Why do you think everyone advertises around ‘The Big Game’ and not The Superbowl®? It’s because Superbowl is a registered trademark of the NFL and you cannot use it to advertise or sell merchandise without a licensing agreement.

So the media attention that Cuppy is receiving will likely result in a bitch ass Cease & Desist letter from the legal team that works for Kellogg. You may remember that Kellogg purchased the Pringles brand from Procter & Gamble in 2012 for 2.7 BILLION dollars. That’s right….2.7 BILLION dollars!! With that sale, Kellogg would have received recipes, trade secrets, and intellectual property rights…including the rights to the Pringle LOGO.  

Yes, Cuppy, that little ® isn’t just a cute addition to the logo. It’s a Registered Trademark, so without a licensing agreement with Kellogg, you can’t just rip off reproduce their logo and then sell it. Also, it’s clear from the photographic evidenced that Cuppy is  aware of the mark because the ® is under the logo on the violating cups!! 

Friends, Don’t be that online business. Don’t be cool with, or at best ignorant too, violating other people’s intellectual property rights for 15 minutes. It isn’t a good look. I will just remind everyone for a moment about the LUSH cosmetics case where the federal court found that LUSH cosmetic hadn’t enforced its trademark adequate and they became unable to shut down infringers LUSH clothing. Trademark really really does require that you protect it or lose it. So, when you pay 2.7 BILLION for a company, what do you do? You protect that shit.

I just cannot support this.

You guys know me, I support online business, but when someone is grabbing at their 15 minutes by violating someone else’s rights I get heated. That, and this is a perfect example of Trade Dress, which we haven’t discussed in a while. Trade Dress is an area of Trademark that isn’t talked about frequently but should be at least basically understood because it may apply to your business. Trade Dress protects you beyond just the logo. It protects the look and feel of aspects of your brand like the packaging. So, a great example of Trade Dress…. A freaking PRINGLES CAN. So look at the photos below from Cuppy’s Instagram photos with their cups alongside actual Pringle’s cans below and ask, if this was happening to your company how would you feel? Would you think this replicates the look and feel of your packaging? Would that piss you off?

I ask you, is your business adequately protected if this happens to you? If you have questions about protecting your own business or just want more of the TEA (you know like the LuLaRoe article) on the legal stuff you can join my email list below. I am here to help online business owners not end up like Cuppy.

*header image from www.munchies.com modified by me.

All images from Instagram @TheCupArtist

This business doesn’t seem to mind the media attention….
If you have an Etsy store or a handmade business - this post is for you! Did you know that you need to have a licensing agreement to make products with someone else's logo? Click to read more!

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Emily D. Baker, Esq.

Emily D. Baker, Esq.

Badass Lawyer for Online Business

Emily has been running business for 15 years and has ove 13 years of legal experience. She spent 10 years at the Los Angeles County District attorney's office where she truly learned to be a solopreneur. Emily has built her consulting and speaking business from the ground up, in her garage jamming out to 90's music. She specializes in no BS practical advice for the starting and scaling online entreprenur. Emily will tell you what the business gurus can't in a way that is both hillarious and empowering.

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