Perhaps the best kind of IP story reads like a Mad Libs, with disparate entities who may have otherwise never interacted now thrown together to fight over a trademark or copyright filing or alleged infringement. Take something as mundane as, say, tires: a hypothetical story about Goodyear and Yokohama in some sort of scuffle might be interesting if you choose to dive into it, but there’s a far greater chance it’s written off as tire companies fighting over tire things like types of rubber or whatever they fight over.
If you toss out Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, and Kanye West, the musician/entrepreneur, you’re intrigued, if only to find out what they could possibly be at odds over. In this case, it’s a logo; as reported by NBC News, the retail giant has made a bid to formally oppose Kanye’s trademark filing for a Yeezy logo, claiming it’s too similar to their own.
Given the ubiquity of the chain, you probably know the Walmart logo in question: yellow, with spokes or lines emerging from the center. Per Walmart, it’s the “Spark Design” and it’s hard to argue its association; even someone who chooses to do their shopping elsewhere knows its origins.
Kanye’s Yeezy logo definitely shares similarities to Walmart’s design. While his has more spokes and is dots rather than lines, they’re certainly in the same family. That’s where intent often matters in an application, and where much of the trouble seems to stem from; according to Walmart’s representatives, Kanye’s trademark application is light on details as to how that logo will be used, and his team allegedly hasn’t responded to Walmart’s efforts for further information.
How Kanye and his team respond is certainly another point of interest in the story. Recent years have seen him make headlines as much for his behavior as much as his work, and while it’s perhaps in poor form to assume a place among those gawking at his behavior rather than urging for him to get the help he seems to need, it’s nevertheless worth wondering what the response might be, or if there even will be a response. Kanye is a wealthy and successful artist, but Walmart is Walmart, and absent a concerted effort to preserve his trademark Kanye runs the risk of having his application rejected.
Still, it’s an interesting intersection between brands that enlivens the IP space, at least for a moment. Now we wait for the next mismatched pairing that comes over the transom.