A couple of months ago, the media got wind of a lawsuit filed by Walmart against the Canadian United Food and Commercial Workers seeking an injunction to stop the union from using Walmart logos and slogans on a union website dedicated to encouraging Walmart workers to join unions. Here is the New York Times article.
This lawsuit was likely received with great enthusiam at the union’s headquarters, since it attracts way more public attention to their website than they could ever had hoped. If I was the union, I’d fight this case to the Supreme Court if the injunction were actually to be granted. Here is the UFCW webpage on the lawsuit, and you can see how the union is putting the lawsuit to good use with “under the threat of censorship” yellow tape across the logos. And check out this very funny little parody.
I’ll bet the union enjoyed reading this part of Walmart’s pleadings:
59. The activities of the Defendent … are causing serious and immediate irreperable harm and damage to the Plaintiff and to the valuable reputation and goodwill in Wal-mart’s registered trademarks.
How does Wal-Mart prove this harm, I wonder, especially since the website has been up for 6 years! In addition to using versions of Walmart logos, the union also makes fun of one of Walmart’s slogans: “Save Money. Live Better.” The union’s website says: “Get Respect. Live Better.” Walmart is trying to get a court to put an end to all of this criticism.
I’m no trademark/IP lawyer, so I will not offer much by way of legal analysis. I do recall a case from the 1990s involving the CAW using the Michelin marshmellow man in their organizing flyers. The Federal Court found that this was not prohibited by trademark laws. That case was called Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin-Michelin & Cie v. Hargrove and CAW.
As part of my series on Real Pleadings, I thought it would be a hoot to post Walmart’s motion pleadings in the injunction case. It’s a good, entertaining read. The motion will be argued later this month in the Quebec court. I’ll update when a decision is released.
Here is Walmart’s motion