This ridiculous trademark opposition involves two things most people strongly dislike: (1) unsolicited junk email and (2) canned meat. On September 18, 2009, Hormel Foods (“Hormel”) filed an opposition against a trademark application filed by an Austrian citizen for the mark SPAMROBIN for “computer programs and software for use in filtering out unsolicited emails in the field of email security applications.” (Serial No. 79048558). As many of you probably know, Hormel is the manufacturer of the (in)famous canned meat product called SPAM. Since 1937, Hormel has been producing everyone’s favorite chopped pork gourmet delight, and, not surprisingly, Hormel owns over a dozen federal trademark registrations for various SPAM marks including SPAM, SPAMBURGER, SPAMTASTIC, and SPAM JAM. Most of these marks are registered for products and services related to food.
Hormel’s opposition to the SPAMROBIN application is based upon its belief that computer software for filtering junk email is “related to the goods and services sold and provided in connection with [Hormel’s] SPAM trademark and/or represent a natural zone of expansion for [Hormel] in that such goods and services would travel and/or be promoted through the same channels of trade for sale to, and used by, the same class of purchasers.”
You have got to be kidding. As anyone with an email address knows, the term “spam” has come to define unsolicited and unwanted junk email sent randomly to thousands of email accounts. Clearly, the SPAMROBIN mark refers to this type of spam, not Hormel’s gelatinous tinned pig. There is absolutely no relationship between canned meat and junk email filtering software, the products would generally not be sold in the same type of store or on the same website, and there is no chance that Hormel will be moving into the junk email filtering software business. Maybe Hormel is just worried that, in blind taste tests, 9 out of 10 people preferred the taste of the SPAMROBIN computer software to Hormel’s SPAM mystery meat.
Needless to say, I would rather read 100 spam email messages every day than be forced to ingest a single can of SPAM processed meat product. And, on a side note, does anyone know of even one person who actually buys SPAM? I bet that the $600 it cost Hormel in government filing fees to challenge the SPAMROBIN application is likely just about equal to the revenues Hormel has earned from the sales of its vile SPAM product over the 70 years it has been in existence. And that’s not including the hundreds in legal fees Hormel paid its attorneys to prepare and file such garbage. Undoubtedly, it will now take Hormel at least another seven decades of peddling SPAM to make up that cost.