A black apron featuring bloody vampire fangs and the words Goth IHOP. Does this seem like a trademark violation to you? IHOP certainly thought so when they sent OnlyFans model Candylion what she calls a “copyright strike,” which told her to stop using their trademark name.
But was this the right move on IHOP’s part?
Protecting Your Trademark Vs. Appearing Stodgy and Ridiculous
Obviously, IHOP has every right to protect their trademark name. The company has to worry about things such as brand confusion, and may fear that a Goth version of their trademark could cause problems.
That being said, it is difficult to see how anyone would actually believe Candylion’s design represents the real IHOP. She certainly finds the whole thing ridiculous, posting on social media: “This is the funniest copyright strike I’ve ever gotten and probably will ever get.”
Now, you might expect the person facing a potential trademark lawsuit to react this way. The sillier they can make the claim seem, the less likely it is to be taken seriously, right?
However, she is not the only one calling IHOP’s reaction into question. In replies to her post, fans have argued that IHOP should have just gone along with the joke and used it for additional publicity, with comments like: “Someone was bored at the office huh?”
When protecting their copyrights and trademarks, companies must consider the possibility of public backlash and how it might impact public perception.
Does IHOP Have a Case against Candylion?
It is difficult to say for sure. One thing she has going against her is the fact that she used the IHOP name. As one commenter pointed out, she might have saved herself a lot of trouble by making up a fake restaurant called IGOTH or something similar.
However, Candylion says she believes she’ll be protected by parody laws.
The real issue here seems to be that Candylion was selling her Goth IHOP aprons. The fact that she used the trademark name for her e-commerce site could be the snag.
Will this trademark confusion case end as a Grand Slam for IHOP? Or will it disappear as quickly as a short stack? You will probably need another refill of coffee before we know.