Trademark Alphabet Soup: SXSW V. YXYY

by T+B Blog Team on January 21, 2014

South by Southwest (SXSW), the music, film, and interactive festival and conference held annually in Austin, Texas, sent a cease and desist to the organizers of another event called YxYY (“Yes by Yes Yes”) back in September. Yes by Yes Yes promotes itself as  “A gathering of thinkers/futurists/nerds/weirdos.”

Techdirt published the communication which states: “Because “Yes By Yes Yes” and “YxYY” resembles our “South by Southwest” and “SXSW” format, we believe that use of these terms in connection with the event is likely to cause confusion or dilution of the SXSW Marks.”

As a result, YXYY has agreed to change its name to “Yes and Yes Yes.” In a statement on the event website, The Yes and Yes Yes Team said: “…it was clear that the event was destined to continue into the foreseeable future, we had already wondered, ‘Do we want our name to forever be a reference to another conference?’ The latter thought tipped the scales and we decided to embrace a (simple but meaningful) name change.”

In 2012, SXSW moved to protect its trademark by contacting a website called South By Free Noms (SXFN), which bills itself as a guide to free food and drinks at the SXSW festival. As of this writing, SXFN’s Tumblr and Facebook pages are still using the name; we couldn’t verify whether there have been any changes to the graphics used.

Brad Spies, a SXSW spokesman, told KXAN that the company focuses on three areas concerning use of the trademark:

  • When a brand or company is trying to commercially benefit from the use of our marks without our permission
  • When people fraudulently claim to sell access to SXSW
  • When people use the SXSW marks in the URL or website title, or when they use our marks in any type of artwork they create

What other trademark cases do you recall involving a clash of similar acronyms?

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