Vice Media received a lot of unfavorable attention this week after demanding that a band in LA stop calling itself “ViceVersa.” Vice Media apparently requested a complete accounting in writing of all gross revenue and net profits.

Vice Media filed in March to Oppose the ViceVersa band trademark at the USPTO (proceeding number 91226792). Then this month their counsel sent an apparently strongly worded cease and desist letter to the band.

The situation has now spawned:

Vice Media created its own mess here. I’m not sure their claims are very strong. And their tactics may have backfired. The band is now far better known than it was 48 hours ago.

Thus, we have a classic example of the Streisand Effect. I have been speaking and writing on this phenomenon as it relates to trademark matters for many years. As I wrote in 2012:

When preparing a demand letter or a complaint, brand owners would be prudent to consider the reactions if the recipient posts the letter online, and how the brand owners’ clients will react to the publicity. Claims that are tenuous and demands that are heavy-handed are the most ripe for a “social shaming” reaction by the accused.Reasonable people and attorneys can certainly disagree in many instances as to whether a letter or complaint is appropriate; but the tactics and the demands often speak for themselves. Particularly when sending a ‘borderline’ demand, brand owners and their counsel must consider what responses the accused could make, and whether the message of the demand should be toned down or altered…. Perhaps different tactics could have achieved better results at a lower price, both in dollars and good will.

I guess counsel for Vice Media didn’t read that blog post?

By the way — don’t VICE and VICE-VERSA have very different meanings?!?!?!

For more on the situation, see article in OC Weekly.


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