The Tweet That Got Chobani Sued for Millions
A tweet sent by Chobani might be the smoking gun in a copyright lawsuit against the Greek yogurt company--a lesson that businesses shouldn't get too comfortable on social media.
Author Dov Seidman is suing Norwich, New York-based Chobani and its advertising agency Droga5 for copyright infringement stemming from an ad campaign that featured the tagline "How Matters." Seidman claims that Chobani stole the campaign concept from his 2011 book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything, and from the founding principle of LRN, his consulting firm. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Seidman has trademarked certain uses of the word "how." (Chobani, however, has trademarked "how matters.")
While it may seem a little ridiculous that a person could trademark such a common term, Seidman says there is evidence of infringement in the form of a tweet Chobani sent him prior to the launch of the "How Matters" campaign. The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages including any profits Chobani has earned from the campaign, which debuted during the Super Bowl. Below is the tweet in question:
AdWeek reports that the company has issued a statement responding to the lawsuit. Here is an excerpt:
Chobani chose 'How Matters' as its platform because it represents what Chobani has always stood for, including its use of natural ingredients to make wholesome and nutritious food. Mr. Seidman does not own a trademark registration for 'How Matters' and has never used that phrase as a trademark. Numerous other companies use phrases including the word 'how' in connection with marketing language and corporate social responsibility phrasing, and Mr. Seidman himself argued to the trademark office that there is no likelihood of confusion in circumstances similar to these. We are confident that our use of 'How Matters' does not violate any legal rights of Mr. Seidman, and accurately portrays who we are and what we do.