Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Don't Mess with Texas' trademarks

Did you know that "Don't Mess with Texas" is actually supposed to refer to keeping their highways clean from litter? I lived in Texas for two years while doing a master's degree and saw the roadside signs all the time. But I never realized that the phrase was created soley for anti-litter campaign purposes. I always figured that the Texas Dept. of Transportation had merely co-opted an old phrase that was generally meant to evoke a macho Texas that once fought for its freedom from Mexico, was once it's own country, and is the biggest state and so on and so forth (you can't even be in Texas for five minutes without hearing all of those truths).

Actually, the "Don't Mess with Texas" phrase came about in 1987, and was only registered in 2000. It was originally created as an anti-littering message, but now appears on loads of unrelated merchandise. Now, all these years later, the Texas Dept. of Transportation wants to enforce its trademark and is sending out cease and desist letters (23 so far). But just consider all of the products this has appeared on, it will be difficult for them to now rein in use of the mark, to say the least.

My guess is that they are now becoming concerned because the phrase is being used by anti-abortion activists that they do not wish to be associated with:

Trademark and patent lawyer Ted Stevenson said the department would have a difficult time showing that consumers were confusing the abortion-rights T-shirts with its anti-litter campaign. However, the state could claim its message is being diluted by the slogan's unauthorized uses.

Here is the official Don't Mess with Texas website.

Article via Yahoo! News.

In other Texas news, Starbucks is suing a bar owner who sells a mixed combo of Shiner Bock and Lone Star beer that he calls "Starbock." I really miss Shiner Bock, can't get it here in New York City. Article here.


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