This week’s article is about an awesome reality show on the A&E television network and some rapper I’ve never heard of who hopefully falls off the face of the Earth sooner rather than later after stirring up this ridiculous trademark dispute. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of watching “Storage Wars,” the show revolves around a bunch of competing auction hunters who bid on the contents of abandoned storage units after having only five minutes to conduct a visual inspection of the unit without being able to go inside and rummage through all of the stuff. Now, I know that sounds about as interesting as watching someone cook a leg of lamb on the Food Network, but it is actually one of my favorite programs. I mean, these guys are often risking thousands of dollars on trying to win storage lockers that might end up only containing costume jewelry and broken electronics rather than a safe stuffed with cash or rare antiques. The best is when one of them thinks they hit the jackpot with a particular item but then later finds out it’s only worth a few bucks. Call me mean-spirited, but sometimes failure is fun to watch.
Anyway, one of the main “characters” on Storage Wars is a guy named David “The Mogul” Hester. And he really is a character. Hester is the owner of Rags to Riches consignment store in Costa Mesa, California and has the largest operation of all the auction hunters featured on the show. He is pretty much an arrogant bully who attempts to intimidate his competition and will often bid up the price of storage units just to make them pay top dollar. But what really makes Hester stand out from the crowd is that when he makes a bid, he shouts out an annoying “YUUUP!” rather than just saying “yep” or giving a simple head nod or hand wave. In addition, when Hester attends these auctions, he wears shirts and caps on which his signature “YUUUP!” appears. All in all, he’s a tool, but there’s no denying that he’s an entertaining tool who knows the ins and outs of buying abandoned storage units. Oh, and Hester also has three recently-filed trademark applications for the word YUUUP! for clothing, stickers, posters, and a variety of entertainment services. Gotta love this guy!
So, now comes along a rapper by the name of Tremaine Neverson, a/k/a Trey Songz, who apparently likes to perform an animal-like squeal in some of his “music” that basically amounts to a combination of “YEEEE” and “UUUUP.” Why anyone would want to listen such a squeal is beyond my comprehension, but I guess at least some people do since Mr. Songz won the 2009 BET Award for Best Male R&B Artist. Well, Mr. Songz obviously has some free time and extra money to burn because he asked his attorney to send David Hester a cease and desist notice claiming that Hester was infringing his trademark by using YUUUP! and demanding that Hester stop commercially exploiting YUUUP! in any manner whatsoever. So, basically, Trey Songz is asserting that Hester’s use of YUUUP! is likely to cause confusion among the general public or will cause people to mistakenly assume that there is some kind of association between Hester and Songz. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then we surely agree that the only person who is confused is Trey Songz.
In a move that is totally in line with Hester’s “take no prisoners” attitude, Hester filed a declaratory judgment action against Songz in a New York federal court requesting the court to declare that Hester’s use of YUUUP! does not infringe any trademark rights allegedly owned by Songz. Man, I hope Hester’s trademark attorney just wipes the floor with this moron. Seriously, who is going to think that some thrift store owner currently experiencing his 15 minutes of fame is connected in any way to a run-of-the-mill recording artist who is probably less famous right now than Hester is? Ummmm, nobody, that’s who. If you’re with me, gimme a YUUUP! YUUUP!