Emerging rapper J.R. Bricks has released a single called Waffle House. As album cover he used the logo of Waffle House (but with his name in it). The single was well received, but unfortunately not with Waffle House. This chain sent a cease and desist letter within one week to the label of Bricks. The basis of the complaint is a violation of their trademark rights on the logo. Furthermore, the Waffle House insists on changing the title of the the song.
In a reaction Bricks has proposed to change the title into Waffle Hause but Waffle House does not agree (a Waffle Hause is still a Waffle House). Now the title is After the Club. Bricks does not have to change the lyrics:
“We’re What They talkin ” bout, we are What They talkin ” bout / After the club, Meet us at the Waffle House.”
The motivation of Waffle House for this legal action was that they feared confusion as they also release music. Bricks thinks however that Waffle House does not want to be associated with hip hop.
MarkMatters.com regrets that this has not evolved into a lawsuit as it would be an interesting clash between free speech and trademark law. In our view, the use of Waffle House in the title as well as in the lyrics are rather innocent (the whole song is not violent or explicit). The use of a parody logo is discussable. MarkMatters.com likes to hear your comment on this case.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”