Turtle Wax “has gone too far”, says angry UK company

27-05-2014

The director of a UK business embroiled in an IP dispute with Turtle Wax, the US car care company, has said it has “gone too far” by trying to trademark a hashtag.

Last week TBO reported on the tussle over ‘#reflectie’, a term used on social media channels by both Dodo Juice and Turtle Wax to promote their competitions.

Drivers who send Turtle Wax a self-snapped picture in the shine of their waxed car can win a 2015 Ford Mustang. Dodo Juice, a smaller British rival, is luring people with four sets of its ‘Basics of Bling’ product, each worth £100 ($170).

Dodo Juice launched its campaign eight days before Turtle Wax, but the US company, armed with its trademark application for ‘#REFLECTIE’, has sent the UK outfit a cease-and-desist letter ordering it to stop using the hashtag.

In a statement to TBO, however, Dodo Juice’s director Dom Colbeck said that hashtags should not be trademarked.

This is because, he said, hashtags are references to other words or trademarks and
are therefore “simply a mechanic for 'fair dealing'; they are not necessary for protecting trademarks; and ‘reflectie’ is a descriptive word – a term that is “not generally capable of being trademarked”.

“Turtle Wax is attempting to use trademark legislation to encompass
hashtags ... There would have been no initial or original provision for hashtags to be covered when the legislation was created,” he added.

“We believe that Turtle Wax have gone too far in trying to trademark this
particular hashtag.”

The goods and services under Turtle Wax’s US application, filed on April 9, states: “Preparations for cleaning, washing, waxing, polishing, restoring, shining, refinishing, and preserving the interiors and exteriors of vehicles.

“Providing a website that gives users the ability to review and share various photographic images, text, and video content pertaining to vehicles, and provide input, likes, dislikes, opinions, suggestions, and comments and engage in social networking,” it adds.

After receiving the cease-and-desist letter, Dodo Juice is now seeking legal advice “so that we can duly act” on the arguments it has raised, Colbeck said.

“There is a much wider IP implication regarding trademarking of hashtags that needs to be immediately addressed,” he added.

Turtle Wax did not respond to a request for comment on the latest claims, but previously declined to comment. 

dodo juice, turtle wax, reflectie, social media, trademarks

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