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Best Buy Flexes Legal Muscles Over "Geek"

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the dibs-on-nerd dept.

The Courts 317

siliconbits writes "US Electronics retailer Best Buy has been slow but steady in the fight to protect its Geek Squad trademark, but some are wondering whether the 800-lb gorilla of the tech retailing sector is going too far in its war to right some wrongs. The word 'Geek' is a century-old word that used to mean 'fool' or 'crazy,' but has, since the beginning of the 1980s, been associated with fans of technology in general and computers in particular. That hasn't prevented a number of geek-themed companies from being hit by Best Buy's legal team over the last decade, including Geek Housecalls, Rent a Geek, Geek Rescue, Speak with A Geek and, not surprisingly, arch-rival Newegg."

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Typical (5, Funny)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500624)

If you can't compete with them, sue them. It worked for SCO!

Re:Typical (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500928)

I'm not sure if their case is correct, but all the groups listed in the summary aren't just using "geek". They are using it in conjunction with tech support.

"Geek Housecalls, Rent a Geek, Geek Rescue, Speak with A Geek"

Re:Typical (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501064)

what happened to "Geeks Are Sexy" website?

Re:Typical (5, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501098)

It was ruled false advertising.

Re:Typical (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501330)

Hey, I had a mod point left, where'd it go? You need a "funny" mod. I don't have any trouble attracting the opposite sex (but the meme is funny).

Re:Typical (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501206)

So? "Geek" is a common term to describe, well, geeks. So to use the term "geek" as part of the name of a company or service that gives tech support to end users makes a lot of sense and I just don't see how it can be a protected term.

Re:Typical (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501366)

"Nerd" is the respectable term. "Nerd" implies some kind of knowledge, no matter how obscure. A nerd may be picked on, but he or she is always the master of their own domain.

A "geek" is a moronic chump who lacks social skills and knows nothing about anything. They are kinda like retards, except that they are not technically retarded. The geek is the armpit-sniffing nose-picker who can't handle his drugs. One is said to be "geeking out" if he ditches the pipe in the bushes and goes running at the sound of a faraway ambulance siren.

Let 'em keep the "geek."

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Typical (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501310)

This would be like the NFL suing everyone who uses the word "jock" to refer to an American football player. Its ridiculous and shouldn't be legal. You shouldn't be able to claim infringement on one word unless you invented that word.

Frankly... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500640)

I'd say that the world's questionably-socially-adept technology enthusiasts have a much better defamation case against Best Buy's appropriation of the term for their "Geek Squad"...

Re:Frankly... (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500682)

The Nerd-Herd?

Re:Frankly... (1, Flamebait)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501092)

on that note... NerdCore hip hop?

Re:Frankly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501318)

GNU-Nerd-Hurd. Get it right!

Re:Frankly... (2)

Whalou (721698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500746)

questionably-socially-adept technology enthusiasts

I've never been to Best Buy but from what I understand the "Geek Squad" appears to be filled with questionably-technology-adept social enthusiasts. And even then, the social part is possibly a stretch.

Re:Frankly... (4, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500924)

At least they don't call it "the Genius Bar." Biggest. Misnomer. Ever.

Re:Frankly... (1, Flamebait)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501122)

At least genius is complementary. Some of us still consider geek and nerd to be insulting regardless of the context.

Re:Frankly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501368)

Get over it.

Re:Frankly... (0, Flamebait)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501386)

How the hell is this post flamebait? You want flamebait? You mods are complete shitheads. There. Better? Shitheads.

Re:Frankly... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501426)

It may be complementary, but do you still have to pay them?

Re:Frankly... (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500946)

Geek Squad was from what I understand actually fairly helpful prior to being taken over by BestBuy. These days though, they're more known for stealing porn from consumers and general ineptitude. 9 Confessions Of A Former Geek Squad Geek [consumerist.com]

Re:Frankly... (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501128)

when I applied for best buy, the manager flat out told me that I (2 years into my bs degree in Computer Science at the time of interview) was too smart for the majority of the store but too dumb for Geek Squad. I looked at him and wondered, WTF are the requirements to be employed here if a techie in college is too smart yet too dumb at the same time?

Re:Frankly... (3, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501174)

Based on anecdotal evidence found on the web - that is no longer true. It seems that the "geeks" have been put out to pasture, and Best Buy has hired "sales" people to replace them. Today, calling the "Geek Squad" means some sales oriented person comes to your house, runs some automated software to clean up viral infestations, and to find obvious hardware and software problems. Based on what he finds, that sales person then offers all sorts of (possibly un-) necessary hardware, software, and/or services. Geek Squad members are graded on the sales they make, rather than the computers they fix.

Geek Squad is a sales forces with real techs push (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501296)

Geek Squad is a sales forces with real techs push over people who can sell rip off monster cables and extended warrantys also Best Buy's optimization wizards have fabricated a devilish scam to exploit uninformed customers. Employees download a PlayStation 3's firmware update in advance and tack on an extra $30 to the cost of the system. http://consumerist.com/2010/10/best-buy-will-give-you-free-ps3-software-for-30-mandatory-charge.html [consumerist.com]

Some times There were no computers left that weren't currently being optimized by the Geek Squad for sale at some best buys.

Real techs need to sell and ripoff at best buy to get hours. Stapes is just as bad with high press sales push on the techs.

Class-Action Status assured! (1)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501042)

end

Re:Frankly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501142)

Actually I suspect the Minneapolis outfit that Best Buy bought came up with "Geek Squad" years before the word "geek" had any sort of hip connotations. Until relatively recently (last 8-10 years maybe), "geek" had similar connotations as "nerd", except it was even more pejorative - some people would admit to being nerds, but "geek" was strictly a put-down term.

I remember reading a funny article in Fortune magazine about ten years ago about a "Geek Squad" delivering and installing a custom home entertainment setup to somebody as a publicity vehicle. It was probably these Minneapolis guys, but I can't find it on google.

Use in Commerce (4, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500650)

Before this thread goes off the rails about Best Buy trying to censor free speech, under US law (the Lanham Act), trademark rights apply only to uses in commerce. So you can be a geek, call people geeks, this article can discuss geeks, that's all fine. However, when you start a "Squad o'Geeks" computer repair service, only then are you going to run into a potential problem.

Note: this doesn't mean it's a slam dunk for Best Buy... Newegg's defense is that "geek" is a generic term, and it could well be. The point is just that trademarks only apply to commercial speech.

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500714)

rubish

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501050)

rubbish

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501144)

rubbbish?

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

jkiller (1030766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501228)

The extra "B" is for "BYOBB."

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500752)

but only the fully qualified name - ie Geek Squad is trademarked. Geek in and of itself, even in use by other technical specialists is not infringement.
Chances are if anyone confuses Speak with a Geek with Geek Squad, it's only going to improve their already shaky, shady reputation.

Most of the Geek Squad members will only recommend - wipe, reinstall, without trying to recover any data. (aside from them scanning for any porn or blackmail worthy photos or documents).

Re:Use in Commerce (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500802)

but only the fully qualified name - ie Geek Squad is trademarked. Geek in and of itself, even in use by other technical specialists is not infringement.

Not necessarily, if Best Buy can show they have rights in the family mark - see the McDonalds v. McSleep and McDental cases.

Chances are if anyone confuses Speak with a Geek with Geek Squad, it's only going to improve their already shaky, shady reputation.

Possibly, but that doesn't matter... Trademarks are about consistent reputations, not stellar ones. McDonald's has craptastic food, but it's consistently craptastic. That's why it's got one of the strongest trademarks in the world.

Re:Use in Commerce (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500798)

And only to deceptive use. Walk into a pharmacy or grocery store or something, pick up the nearest store-brand OTC medication or toothpaste or whatever and it will say "Compare to $COMPANY(r) $PRODUCT(r) active ingredients*"

"*This product is not manufactured or distributed by $COMPANY owner of the registered trademark $PRODUCT(r)."

If they can establish that the competing service is using a name(or name/branding/color scheme/etc. of which the Geek Squad has a fairly well-developed, if hideous, flavor) calculated to deceive the customer, the competing service is in for a world of hurt. If, on the other hand, "geeks" are a generic category of technical service providers, "Rent A Geek" and "Geek Squad" sound pretty much nothing alike. If an orange and black car containing a "Squad o'Geeks" wearing goofy uniforms pulls up, though, game over...

Re:Use in Commerce (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500866)

If they can establish that the competing service is using a name(or name/branding/color scheme/etc. of which the Geek Squad has a fairly well-developed, if hideous, flavor) calculated to deceive the customer, the competing service is in for a world of hurt. If, on the other hand, "geeks" are a generic category of technical service providers, "Rent A Geek" and "Geek Squad" sound pretty much nothing alike. If an orange and black car containing a "Squad o'Geeks" wearing goofy uniforms pulls up, though, game over...

Well, there's part of the problem... Newegg put up a television add with a big electronics store and a guy in a blue polo shirt fixing computers, and they use black and orange colors in the logo.

Also, the fact that "Rent a Geek" and "Geek Squad" sound nothing alike isn't that relevant... You don't have to directly confuse the two marks - rather, the test for infringement is whether a reasonable person would think that "Rent a Geek" refers to or associated with Best Buy's service.

And finally, remember that the "reasonable person" is one in the market. No Slashdot person would confuse Best Buy and Newegg, or Geek Squad and Rent a Geek... but we also wouldn't be caught dead using those services. Your 80 year old grandmother who wants the emails and the 3Gs to send an internets to her grandkid is the relevant market, and you can bet she's going to be confused between Geek On and Geek Squad, particularly if they're both in blue polos with orange and black logos.

Re:Use in Commerce (5, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501124)

Yes but that particular test is faulty because you can find "a" person who "doesn't give a shit and just wants this shit fixed" in 90% of the market. 90% of the market is not reasonable. 90% of the market that shows up at Best Buy's Geek Squad will think the Genius Bar at Apple is the same thing... Geek Squad, Geek Bar, whatever.

By the way, Best Buy says (internally--this is company proprietary information) that Geek Squad's revenue is supposed to be about 80%; however, each Geek Squad "Agent" gets paid $10.50-ish an hour, maybe $15/hour in the upper tiers, more for out-of-store service. In-store is 80%, which means a revenue of 5 times the $84/day you make, or $420/day in services sold. In truth, however, they push for around $200/hour or about $1600/day.

Think about it. If it's slow up front, one machine an hour is a $60 "diagnostic" service, already breaking (at $10.50/hr) the $52.50 you need to make. While there's no customers, you do all the bench work; it's minimal. Now, diagnostic is mandatory (if you come in saying "I have a virus" it's "We must do a diagnostic, $60"), but I *think* the actual repair is discounted ... so if it's a $30 repair, you pay $60 total.

But that'll get you in a load of trouble (I know, I was fired for minimizing profits), so what normally happens is they run the anti-virus installed and it can't remove a virus (funny) or otherwise doesn't fix the problem. Then they tell you, $70 to back up any files, $60 to re-install the OS, $30 to run Windows Update and apply all patches, $30 per software package (Anti-virus, Anti-Spyware, Office) being installed... totals out to a good $250, plus the original repair, over $300 for one customer.

I used to peer at the output and notice what was being found "protected" and irreparable; when you reboot, that file is encrypted and can't be scanned by the offline virus scanner, so it misses the virus. But since the online scanner told you it's in C:\Program Files\Common Files\wx3pd12.exe ... you go rename it to .ex_ and reboot. System works? Remove the file. Problem solved, and you just saved the customer $250 with 5 minutes of extra work. Now your supervisor is pissed and you get fired.

Re:Use in Commerce (2)

DarKnyht (671407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501404)

Apparently you did not watch the video in the article (which isn't a surprise since odds are you didn't read the story). The commercial shows a box store salesperson in a blue polo taking the camera (the customer) to the laptop sales section. The customer asks the simple question, "What's the difference between the two" and the rest of the commercial is watching the salesperson struggle to answer the question. There is absolutely zero mention of Geek Squad, and the word Geek would not be in the commercial except for the tag at the end "Take it from a geek".

Best Buy deserves to get slapped hard for this as it is an abuse of their Trademark. Their Trademark for "Geek Squad" does not give them complete control of the word "Geek" in the commercial world much like a fast food joint can't claim control of "Chicken" just because they sell a "McChicken". It is a common ploy of marketers to make an ad that has people dressed similarly as their competitors to paint them in a poor light, and it is sad that Best Buy feels the need to run to their Legal Team and cry foul. Perhaps if it wasn't so close to the truth they wouldn't be as bothered.

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500826)

It's clear that commercial speech is of higher economic importance to all other pursuits, so sociocultural development of language should take the back seat to trademark law if it tries to cross over into the commercial arena. So you can have a cultural identity, that's all fine, just except it to be owned by a marketing department when dollars get involved. As you say, it's not censorship, it's only a commercial interest demanding subservience, totally different.

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500858)

"Squad" and "Geek" are both ordinary English words being used in their ordinary sense. If that's a valid trademark, then there's something terribly wrong with US trademark law.

Re:Use in Commerce (2)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500900)

The only thing horribly wrong is your understanding.

Trademarks do not need to contain or be made up of made-up words.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501160)

Ah a baseless assertion. How silly of me to think otherwise.

If trademarks overlap with ordinary English, injustice is sure to follow. The right of everyone to speak our language outweighs the narrow commercial interests of a single party. To avoid this, trademarks should not have any ordinary English meaning in the context that they are used.

E.G. "Geek Squad" is a descriptive term, and even people who have never heard of Best Buy would understand the phrase. That's a bad trademark. "Apple Computer" on the other hand, while being composed of ordinary words has no meaning in this context. That's a good trademark.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500920)

Apple is also a generic term, being the name of a fruit. How about I try to set up a computer company using it? I could use some new innovative core design and call my company Apple-core.

My tagline can be: Growing Innovation Depends on your Core

Re:Use in Commerce (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501058)

Apple is also a generic term, being the name of a fruit. How about I try to set up a computer company using it? I could use some new innovative core design and call my company Apple-core.

Apple is a generic term for apples. It's not a generic term for anything else. Specifically with regard to Apple Computers, it's an arbitrary term, which is one of the strongest protected categories of trademarks. More info here [veritrademark.net] or here [bitlaw.com] , essentially layman's guides to the Federal Circuit decision in Abercrombie & Fitch Co. vs. Hunting World, Inc.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501422)

From TFS "The word 'Geek' is a century-old word that used to mean a fool or crazy"

Geek is also a generic term for fool or crazy, which has been specifically used in this case (since 1980s) to refer to people of a technical, but not so social, persuasion.

So Apples are generic for fruit, but specific for a certain computer firm. I'm not against trademarking, I'm quite certain that Best Buy will come out the victor here, I just think that Newegg's defense is somewhat naive. They are hoping to use the "big evil corp is stealing generic words" defense which will just not work.

ie I agree with you.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501012)

And the term "Geek" had been used in commerce, in the same industry, for years if not decades before Worst Buy stole the term and started their Geek Squad. They can trademark "Geek Squad" but they have no claim to other combinations including the generic term "geek." Although I wouldn't mind if they claimed sole rights to the term "moronic" as in "Moronic Techs" or "Moronic service" which is actually what you get when you go the that place.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501138)

And the term "Geek" had been used in commerce, in the same industry, for years if not decades before Worst Buy stole the term and started their Geek Squad.

Doesn't matter... There's no such thing as prior art in trademark law - only if there's someone else currently using the mark.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

GrantRobertson (973370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501342)

You are correct, there is no such thing as "prior ART" but there is such a thing as "prior and still currently using the mark" which is what I was talking about. There are likely thousands of small companies around the country, if not the world, who were using "Geek" in their PC repair business names AND STILL ARE. Just because Worst Buy has more money they think they can muscle and threaten their way to dominance by suing all these small businesses. So how much did you get paid to sell your soul? Because I guarantee it wasn't enough.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501380)

Doesn't matter... There's no such thing as prior art in trademark law - only if there's someone else currently using the mark.

Maybe not prior art, but you can't get trademark protection for "descriptive" marks.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501056)

Before this thread goes off the rails about Best Buy trying to censor free speech, under US law (the Lanham Act), trademark rights apply only to uses in commerce. So you can be a geek, call people geeks, this article can discuss geeks, that's all fine. However, when you start a "Squad o'Geeks" computer repair service, only then are you going to run into a potential problem.

Except that except for the fact that someone tried to turn it into a trademark ... the people doing the computer repair service were pretty well established as being called geeks long before Best Buy had a "Geek Squad". Much like you couldn't trademark the use of the word "gardener" or "snow plowing" ... the word is descriptive of the job function. Lots of us were self professed geeks before Best Buy decided it was a cool marketing term.

So, maybe they trademarked something which actually is far too generic. Certainly, by the time Best Buy had that service, that name pretty much already relied on everybody knowing what it meant. I hope they get told "too damned bad".

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501126)

Except that except for the fact that someone tried to turn it into a trademark ... the people doing the computer repair service were pretty well established as being called geeks long before Best Buy had a "Geek Squad". Much like you couldn't trademark the use of the word "gardener" or "snow plowing" ... the word is descriptive of the job function. Lots of us were self professed geeks before Best Buy decided it was a cool marketing term.

If you bothered reading the second paragraph of the post you're replying to, you wouldn't come off as such an idiot.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501078)

Except a few of the aforementioned companies existed prior to Best Buy IIRC.

Re:Use in Commerce (1)

jonathansdt (1176719) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501200)

The key to trademark infringement is brand confusion in the minds of typical consumers. If it can be shown that my Team O'Geeks is not confused with Geek Squad, there is no damage to pursue.

Re:Use in Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501268)

The key to trademark infringement is brand confusion in the minds of typical consumers. If it can be shown that my Team O'Geeks is not confused with Geek Squad, there is no damage to pursue.

You're right, that totally refutes the post you replied to, dope.

What about "Pencil Neck"? (1)

Zephyn (415698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500684)

When will they be going after the heirs of Fred Blassie?

Cover your face... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500702)

At least "geek" isn't a part of the body. I'm waiting for the day we have to pay Facebook royalties every time we put the word 'face' in personal correspondence.

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500708)

Replace "Geek Squad" in that summary with "Apple," "Sun" or "Oracle." Being a century or more old doesn't mean that it can't be trademarked and protected in commerce. If companies don't protect their trademark, they lose it, and Best Buy is no different.

In High School, we beat the shit out of them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500710)

Now, we work for them.

Re:In High School, we beat the shit out of them. (2)

RobDude (1123541) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501094)

I don't know where you went to high school or where you work; but I've found this to, largely, be incorrect. Most of the 'geeks' I knew in high school are software developers or system admins or something similar. Even some of the really, really smart geeks I knew, the one who worked at Google and then Plantir (while I'm sure he's rich by normal standards) isn't 'running' things.

I'd bet money there are more CEOs in the US who were former jocks/popular kids than former geeks. I might be wrong, I don't have any real data on this, but my gut and personal experience support it. There are a few notable exceptions, specifically tech companies that were started by one geek that grew.

CompGeeks - now geeks.com (2)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500716)

Maybe CompGeeks [geeks.com] should take issue with Best Buy - they've been doing the geek thing for 15 years.

Re:CompGeeks - now geeks.com (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501028)

OTOH, perhaps they should be thankful that people are forgetting about them. I used to buy things from them in the past. But I stopped about the time they stopped posting full spec lists. I had to return several things in a row because they didn't get the spec list right, and much of what they were selling was unbadged or obscure.

I ended up not bothering to return the last one because after I paid for shipping all they were willing to give me was store credit that I wouldn't use because I had bought that item with store credit.

A decade ago, they were actually fairly good, but last time I did business with them the experience was pretty bad, I think this is the first time I've been to their site in quite a while.

let's get back to basics (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500720)

Geeks are supposed to be crazed circus side show freaks that bite the heads off of chickens.

http://youtu.be/JNM4atakanI [youtu.be]

Re:let's get back to basics (4, Funny)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500768)

We prefer the term "Hungry American". We do not like being associated with those introverted computer nerds.

Re:let's get back to basics (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501526)

Geeks are supposed to be crazed circus side show freaks that bite the heads off of chickens.

Ozzy Osbourne is not a geek.

Geek Squad Photoshop Challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500732)

A "geek" was a circus freak that bit the heads off live chickens. This begs for a photoshop challenge to depict the "Real Geek Squad" servicing computers...

Meanwhile, at Best Buy HQ (2)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500748)

We're losing customers to Newegg! We need to stop price gouging our repair services! We need to hire actually knowledgeable and well trained sales representatives! We need to carry a better selection of components that aren't grossly overpriced! We need to .... ah screw it too much overhead let's just sue them over use of the word geek.

I wouldnt call newegg a rival (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500750)

Newegg actually sells cables and computer hardware at realistic prices. Bestbuy is ok for buying movies if they are on sale.

Re:I wouldnt call newegg a rival (1)

I'm just joshin (633449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501370)

For cables, Monoprice kicks Newegg's tail.

-J

Circus Geeks (1)

QuickBible (1143641) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500770)

Perhaps they are going back to the roots of the word "Geek" by trying to eat the competition.

How far should common terms go? (1, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500806)

This really makes me wonder how far one should be allowed to use common terms. In this particular case, the argument is against the decades-old term "geek". How far should companies wanting to engage in commerce be allowed to take a trademark? To me, even the example of the word "geek" is ridiculous, but if you want the most extreme form of insanity when it comes to current copyright/trademark laws, iAnyone doesn't have to iLook any further than Apple, and their iMonopoly over a single letter. At what point should we draw the line?

Re:How far should common terms go? (2, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500986)

This really makes me wonder how far one should be allowed to use common terms. In this particular case, the argument is against the decades-old term "geek". How far should companies wanting to engage in commerce be allowed to take a trademark? To me, even the example of the word "geek" is ridiculous, but if you want the most extreme form of insanity when it comes to current copyright/trademark laws, iAnyone doesn't have to iLook any further than Apple, and their iMonopoly over a single letter. At what point should we draw the line?

But Apple doesn't have a monopoly over the single letter (and, in fact, they haven't successfully asserted family rights in the i- prefix either yet). And "iPod" or "iMac" or "iCloud" certainly aren't common words.

Where should the line be drawn? It depends on the case. We can go as narrow as need be. If "geek" is a generic term and "squad" is generic, then what about "geek squad" together? No one but Best Buy is using that, so maybe we only give them protection over the combination, and "Geek On" or "Squad o'Nerds" would be just fine. Or maybe it's not enough and we require more - "Best Buy's Geek Squad". Now at that point, we're certainly not "being insane" by giving them protection.

The line that's drawn is whether the entire mark - not just its individual parts - is generic. But we can vary the mark or the protection we give until it passes that line.

Re:How far should common terms go? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501276)

...But Apple doesn't have a monopoly over the single letter (and, in fact, they haven't successfully asserted family rights in the i- prefix either yet). And "iPod" or "iMac" or "iCloud" certainly aren't common words.

Cloud is a very common word. Hell, the meaning of the word didn't even change within the context of networking. Add a single letter to it, and poof!, instant trademark that is almost immediately assumed associated with Apple? Sure smells like a single-letter monopoly to me.

I'll believe that they don't have a monopoly over a single letter used with something like the VERY generic word "cloud" when someone can sue them and actually win. Then I'll believe it. Until then, they DO have a monopoly if for no other reason than you can't possibly win against their legal(spinning) team before you're exhausted of funds or patience, or they simply buy you out and force you to STFU and go away. Not like we haven't seen those tactics before in many arenas. Talk about a 600-pound gorilla in the industry...God help your business if you even legally owned i[Anything] and Apple woke up one morning and decided to start using it.

Re:How far should common terms go? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501350)

...But Apple doesn't have a monopoly over the single letter (and, in fact, they haven't successfully asserted family rights in the i- prefix either yet). And "iPod" or "iMac" or "iCloud" certainly aren't common words.

Cloud is a very common word.

I know. That's why you'll notice that I said "iCloud".

Legally, a trademark must be viewed in its entirety. You can't excise part of a mark in order to claim that the remaining part is generic.

Re:How far should common terms go? (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501180)

The trademarking of two common words has been around forever. ie Sun Computers, International Business Machines, Internet Explorer, etc.

Re:How far should common terms go? (0)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501428)

The trademarking of two common words has been around forever. ie Sun Computers, International Business Machines, Internet Explorer, etc.

Quite true, but how often did one use the combination of "Sun" and "Computers" before it was trademarked? Some trademarks do not bother very common verbiage because the use of those two words together was rare or non-existent before.

Now, contrast that with Apples apparent and absolute domination over a single letter. The hot ball of fire in the sky that sustains life on earth becomes "iSun" and instant trademark and automatic association with a single corporate entity? uhhh, yeah...Good luck if you even legally owned i[Anything] and Apple chose to use it one day...

Re:How far should common terms go? (1)

Marc Madness (2205586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501280)

The problem with this issue is not necessarily due to the use of generic words as a trademark, but rather that the application of these trademarks is not sufficiently narrowly defined. As was mentioned in other posts, this could be a case of Best Buy deciding that, accusing the competition of violating their trademark is easier than actually competing with them, so they chose to do this rather than improve their service. The question is, are they legitimately losing business because customers are confounding a competing service for their own, or are they losing business due to an inferior product or service? I'm no jurist, but it seems to me that this is a nuance of trademarks which may not be adequately addressed by trademark law and provides much more possibility for abuse than the ability to register generic words.

They Tarnish the name "Geek" (5, Interesting)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500828)

If the "Geek Squad's" track record [geeksquadreviews.com] indicates anything, it is that they are not worthy of the title "geek" anything.

Anyone who brings their computer to Best Buy for service either 1) Has never brought their computer to best buy for service before, 2) Is too stupid to know any better, or 3) Have no friends who have even a remedial knowledge of IT.

Re:They Tarnish the name "Geek" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501014)

Have no friends who have even a remedial knowledge of IT.

So, what you're saying is those clowns, wanna-be techies @ Worst Buy don't have a remedial knowledge of IT?

Well, you're 150% right about that!

Re:They Tarnish the name "Geek" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501510)

Wasn't a "geek" originally a circus performer who attracted viewers with strange and disturbing activities like biting the heads off of live animals?
What sort of activities would make someone unworthy of that title?

Good thing Slashdot's safe... (1)

Pollux (102520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500840)

I guess CmdrTaco had the wisdom to see this coming when he created a website with "News for Nerds." Just imagine what type of trouble /. would be in if it was "Gadgets for Geeks" or something along those lines!

Sigh... (1)

cmdr_klarg (629569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500850)

Makes me wonder where the world might be if we stopped expending time, money and effort on stupid shit like litigation over the use of the word "geek".

Re:Sigh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500958)

We'd focus our energies into other endless open-ended arguments.
It's just a dick-waving contest.

How rentally metarded is that? (2)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500962)

They only used "Geek Squad" because everybody already knew what it meant. Therefore, it's not theirs.

All this will do for Newegg... (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36500978)

Best Buy will lose this case. And all it will do is give Newegg that much more cache with their current customer base.

Re:All this will do for Newegg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501062)

Cachet, not cache.

Re:All this will do for Newegg... (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501194)

Cachet, not cache.

Cash is also acceptable.

Re:All this will do for Newegg... (1)

aujus3 (2119090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501298)

I'm just amazed that Best Buy is still in business. The bulk of their clientele base seems to be comprised of people who are completely unwilling or unable to utilize the intarwebs to find cheaper prices for the exact same products.

Case in point: I was recently in the market for a mid-range camcorder, and settled on a Panasonic HDC-TM90 after doing some research. I have a friend who works at Best Buy who was willing to get the camcorder for me using his employee discount; I'd then pay him back (nefarious? maybe a bit).

The "deal" he was able to get me ended up being about $42 (after taxes) more expensive than the best internet price I could find. Obviously, I purchased from the internet and am loving my camcorder.

I mean, I can certainly understand paying a small premium for the convenience of walking out of the store with an item, but a nearly 10% premium after the employee discount? That's a bit steep for me.

I don't think Best Buy is going to be around much longer as each coming generation becomes more tech savvy than the last.

Apply it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500984)

House of Pizza, Luigi's Pizza, New York Pizza, Mario's Pizza, etc

Selling a domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36500996)

Maybe I did the right thing by selling my "geek" domain last year.

You fail at transparencies. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501008)

Nice Best Buy logo, you fucking shmucks. Maybe some image editing software more advanced than MS Paint is in order.

You think lulzsec are hackers, you're constantly pumping up bitcoins, your website doesnt work -- whats with this fucking Loading indicator that never goes away?

God you look stupid and hopeless. Even mentioning "slashdot" in a conversation with a real coder is enough to completely discredit you.

Re:You fail at transparencies. (0)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501148)

And yet here you are...

Wrong (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501060)

It didn't mean "fool or crazy", a "geek" was someone who ate live animals. 1920s goldfish swallowers, for example.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501150)

+1, traditionally some in the circus who bit the heads off of live chickens. Use as a perjoritive for people with weak social skills is quite recent, perhaps less than 50 years.

correction - from 19th century (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501226)

It comes from the Low German word "geck" meaning fool or crazy. Sideshow or freak show circus wild (as in crazy) men were called "geeks", and to demonstrate craziness did such stunts as biting chicken's heads off and swallowed and regurgitated live goldfish. In the 1930s, goldfish swallowing was a fad in colleges and was sometimes called being a geek.

Why I have never and will never shop at BestBuy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501080)

To me, "geek" has always ment a tallented amature, and enthusiast.

When it comes to computers and other electronics, I want to work with a trained professional.

From their use of the word "geek" and association with it they have always impressed me as used car salesmen.

Their considering ownership of the word "geek" only reinforces my belief.

YMMV

Picture of infringement (4, Informative)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501088)

The title is misleading. Best Buy is defending uses of the word Geek in a context that can be confused with the brand Geek Squad.

Here is a photo of the alleged infringement. [ipbrief.net]

After looking at the logos, it doesn't look like Best Buy has much of a case. I don't see how a reasonable person can confuse the two usages.

Newegg is a rival to Best Buy? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501120)

Newegg dominates the shit out of Best Buy. Newegg is possibly the best computer / electronics retailer, while Best Buy is possibly the worst.

Hoover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501134)

So something that starts out as a trademark, but becomes generic passes into the public realm, but if it starts out in the public realm, then gets rolled into a trademark it gets pulled out of general use?

Well it has a symmetry to it's logic I suppose.

BAD for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501212)

These Best Buy people are ignorant to the fact that this kind of possessive mediocracy leaves a very fowl taste in the mouth of what could be potential customers. Leave the GEEK out of your bag of tricks and watch the geeks flock your store. Don't be what you claim to be, but are not. Geeks would have a much more casual, lucrative business model than this, making the arduous task of buying new electronic equipment a more enjoyable experience without the malarky. Get some new top management ideas or fall by the wayside.

But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501352)

not ThinkGeek? Should be called "ThinkNeckbeard" these days considering the shift to hipster crap.

Big Box "Repair" Services (4, Insightful)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36501378)

I hate big box repair services so much.

I once had what seemed to be a dud power supply, and I went to the Circuit City near my house because I knew they would have something that would work to replace it. I also figured they would have one of those gadgets for testing power supplies. So I took the power supply out and headed over.

Their support desk said they really preferred to troubleshoot the whole computer, then suggested I go home, put the power supply back in the case, then bring the whole thing back in and pay them $100 just to look at it. I said "no, it's almost certainly just the power supply, just plug it into that thing" and pointed at the tester sitting on the table next to them. After some convincing the guy finally did, and that was when it got *super* scam-tastic.

Luckily I could look over the counter and see that not all the green lights were on when he said "nope, looks like it works fine." I asked him why the +12V rail light hadn't come on, and he tried to tell me that it should work fine, even without +12V, and that that's normal. Of course that gave him an opening to try - again - to tell me to go home, put the (obviously defective) power supply back in the case and bring the whole thing in so they could get $100 just to put it on a shelf for a few days before calling me and saying "you don't have an operating system." To which I would say "no shit, I just built it and it's never even been powered on. Is the power supply broken? Of course it is, you dumb fucks."

If they had the balls to try and pull that shit on somebody like me, who comes in sporting a geek beard, holding a very fancy power supply and knowing at a glance which of their tools I need to borrow for 15 seconds...I shudder at the thought of what they must have pulled on people like - say - my mother.

I doubt any large chain repair service is any better. I hope the Geek Squad chokes and dies.

Argument over t-shirt logo too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501436)

BestBuy was also pissed off at Newegg for creating their "Geek On" t-shirts which used the power/standby symbol ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_symbol) defined in IEC 5009.

BB claims it violates their Geek Squad logo which alters the IEC 5009 image to change the vertical line to be a necktie, symbolizing the Geek Squad black tie look they use.

Geek Squad used to be good back when it was its own company, before they sold out to BB. Now since every couch potato fool thinks they are a systems technician - and BB willingly hires them - they aren't nearly up to the level they once were.

Who's Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36501470)

I rather say Greece. As, if your from Greece your Greek. Remove the 'R' from Greek and you are left with Geek!, How dare a country steal an american store's trademark!

Its just BRUTAL! xD

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