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Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Tad Too Friendly at Friendly®’s

I offer the following consumer experience as fodder for the debate in the intellectual property field over the appropriate balance of trademark protection. While on a road trip recently, I convinced my husband to stop at a Friendly®’s (for old time’s sake). The menu revealed the following mind boggling collection of trademarked treats:

Super Sizzlin'™ breakfasts
Big-Two-Do® (eggs, choice of meat, toast and pancakes or French toast)
Super Big-Two-Do® (the above with home fries)
SuperMelts™
Kickin' Buffalo™ Chicken Salad, Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Wrap and Chicken Platter
Clamboat® Basket
Fishamajig®
Friendly's Big Beef® Burger
Friendly Frank®
Royal Razz® (raspberry drink)
Slammer™ (Watermelon or Orange)
Fribble® Shake
Fribbleccino™ (also in Mocha Latte and Carmel)
Various ice cream flavors: Nuts Over Caramel®, Forbidden Chocolate®, Vienna Mocha Chunk®
Hunka Chunka PB Fudge™, Purely Pistachio®
Friend-z® (frozen blended treat, see below)
Jim Dandy™ (akin to a banana split)
Giant Crowd Pleaser™ (twelve scoops)

Most amusing, however, was the current trademarked Friendly®’s special promotion. We struggled to keep straight faces while our chipper young server inquired whether we would like a Happy Ending® (sundae) to finish our meal. In fact, we’re still chuckling picturing the Friendly®’s marketing meeting where they decided to adopt this slogan – we figure it had to be ten suits around a table oblivious to the double entendre with one Gen Y staffer taking notes while desperately stifling giggles.

For what it’s worth, from the perspective of someone who in this context is a mere consumer with no axe to grind about the various legal and policy arguments, the number of trademarks protecting rather simple words/phrases and applied to quite common place products seems a bit out of hand. If you want to talk about consumer confusion (which I understand is important in trademark policy debates) picture me attempting to secure a frozen blended treat and struggling to remember whether I’m supposed to be ordering a Blizzard® (DQ®), Shiver® (TCBY®), McFlurry® (McDonald’s®), Dazzler™ (Haagen Dazs®), Friend-z® (Friendly®’s ) or 31 Below™ (Baskin Robbins®).

Posted by Katrina Kuh on June 22, 2008 at 07:46 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Wikipedia says, A "happy ending" is also slang for an orgasm achieved as part of an erotic massage.

The clueless among us are happy to have been let in on this double entendre.

Posted by: Ed Still | Jun 23, 2008 1:58:14 PM

Wikipedia says, A "happy ending" is also slang for an orgasm achieved as part of an erotic massage.

The clueless among us are happy to have been let in on this double entendre.

Posted by: Ed Still | Jun 23, 2008 1:57:12 PM

Maybe somebody could direct the clueless among us to a source explaining the specifics of the double entendre ...

Posted by: Clueless Guy | Jun 23, 2008 1:07:19 PM

Friendly's applied for a TM for "Happy Ending" in 1984, listing the first use in commerce as March 26, 1984, and ultimately receiving a trademark in July of 1985.

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=od4d7u.4.28

I don't know how long "happy ending" has been a double entendre, though.

Posted by: krs | Jun 23, 2008 12:51:51 PM

I don't know how long "happy ending" has been a double ententre, but the restaurant chain goes back to 1935, and one may presume that many of their trademarks date from before the 1950s. "Happy ending" is likely to have been innocent enough when the trade name was first introduced. The menu wasn't written by clueless guys in suits or "Maxim staffers," it was written by restauranteurs in the early 20th century.

Sheesh.

Posted by: ryan | Jun 23, 2008 12:19:57 PM

Sorry for all the typos...my browser is cutting off the text area.

Posted by: Michael Risch | Jun 23, 2008 9:12:58 AM

Isn't that what a trademark is? I relatively simple (and easy to remember, if the branding folks are doing their job) nave that identifies an otherwise generic product? Say, for example, "Claritin" which is a billion dollar plus trademark.

Using the commenter above's example, if I asked for a Blizzard and got a McFlurry, I would be pretty upset - there is no comparison between the two. Perhaps the Friendly Frank is somehow different from the usual "beef hot dog."

While some of the marks above are probably descriptive, none of them appear to be out and out generic.


On a side note, the double entendre breaths new life into the "secondary meaning" doctrine!

Posted by: Michael Risch | Jun 23, 2008 8:11:16 AM

As I look at the menu, I think half of those things sound kinda dirty. I wonder if the menu was written by Maxim staffers.

Posted by: krs | Jun 23, 2008 8:08:38 AM

We struggled to keep straight faces while our chipper young server inquired whether we would like a Happy Ending® (sundae) to finish our meal.

How does the server pronounce the "®"? Is it like a seductive purr?

Posted by: krs | Jun 23, 2008 8:07:08 AM

And that's "Gen-Xer"... The name is clearly a Boomer f***-up.

Posted by: Xr | Jun 22, 2008 10:39:48 PM

Anon- I really, really hope that's a joke! (I have eaten at friendlies, but not for many years. I think these might be new trends.)

Posted by: Matt | Jun 22, 2008 10:30:02 PM

Never had a Fishamajig? They're not bad, but I prefer the Whatchamacatfish and Doohickory-smoked sausage.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 22, 2008 9:27:49 PM

Let me just say that the idea of a "Fishamajig®" is terrifying,with the "®" or without.

Posted by: Matt | Jun 22, 2008 8:07:00 PM

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