Biggest drop this year uses illegal logos of Coca-Cola, Walmart


In the 1970s, a printing company named Gemini Rising was ordered to stop selling posters that read “Enjoy Cocaine.” The design was deemed illegal. Why? Because “Enjoy Cocaine” was drawn in the same script as the “Coca-Cola” brand logo. The Coca-Cola Co. argued that the bright red sign could lead customers to believe the soft drink maker was promoting drugs, which would damage the brand.

Although absurd, Coca-Cola’s argument prevailed (read the full court decision here). And to this day, major corporations take the protection of their trademarks very seriously, sending cease and desist (C&D) letters to any project that uses their trademarks creatively, unlicensed or even unintentionally.

[Image: MSCHF]

That’s exactly what makes a new project from prank-loving studio MSCHF so fun.

[Image: MSCHF]

Called C&D Grand Prix, the new website sells F1-style racing jackets, each adorned with unlicensed use from a major brand including Coca-Cola, Walmart, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Disney, Subway and Starbucks . You can buy the jackets for $60 each. But as a bonus, whichever company sends an inevitable cease-and-desist letter first will result in an additional price tag for its fans. MSCHF will send these buyers a matching racing hat free of charge.

[Image: MSCHF]

Why would MSCHF put so much effort into the project? “The big problem is that hedging C&Ds are a phenomenon by which large companies stifle a lot of creativity,” says Daniel Greenberg, chief revenue officer of MSCHF. “The C&D corporate letter is absolutely trivial because no one has the resources to fight one. Fair use is great in theory, but it’s also practically pay-to-play. Grand Prix overturns this dynamic and makes C&D a creative part of the fall.

Indeed, MSCHF’s bread and butter is that kind of creative-first, anti-corporate point of view. In the past, MSCHF has sold earmuffs that deafen Alexa, Nikes remade into “Satan Shoes” with Lil Nas X’s blood inside, and a version of Times New Roman that fills out paperwork for college students at looking for a number of pages.

[Image: MSCHF]

“Fair use” is a legal loophole for creatives (and journalists too!), which aims to allow the reproduction of a work for purposes such as commentary or parody. However, as Greenberg points out, a fair use argument is something you should present in court, with a hired attorney, as a defense against company allegations of trademark infringement. Gemini Rising’s aforementioned defense attempted to argue fair use only to be shot down by the judge. That’s exactly what makes a C&D letter so scary: If you don’t stop what you’re doing, it’ll cost you money in legal fees.

[Image: MSCHF]

The C&D Grand Prix appears to have been a success: six of the eight jackets were already sold out when this story was filed, leaving only Walmart and Subway available. However, when asked how much the company had put up for sale, MSCHF declined to share units in stock. In other words, six jackets, in total, may have been sold. Or it could be 60. We have no way of knowing.

Nonetheless, Greenberg says it’s “important to keep biting bears.” We’ll update this story if and when any of the companies MSCHF is targeting “wins” their Grand Prize.

Previous What to know before borrowing
Next genOway Grants Leading Funder of UK Academic Research Non-Exclusive License to CRISPR/Cas9 Technology | News