The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Best Buy, the owner of the “Geek Squad” trademark for its gang of computer troubleshooters who make house calls to do basic computer maintenance for what some (me, at least) consider utterly outrageous prices, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to an unusual alleged infringer.
Best Buy apparently demanded that Father Luke Strand stop using his “God Squad” mark for his gang of spiritual troubleshooters who make house calls to do basic soul maintenance pretty much for free (donations accepted).
“It’s obviously not a Best Buy vehicle,” said Father Dan Janasik, one of the Squad members shown above posing with the allegedly infringing God Squad car in 2008. (Father Luke declined to comment.) “There was never any kind of formal God Squad group or organization,” Janasik said, apparently forgetting about the Vatican. “Father Luke and some friends simply decided to design a car that would act as a cool and fun way to bring our faith to the public. It’s just a conversation starter.”
Eventually it started a conversation with Best Buy’s lawyers, which the company’s spokesgeek said was unfortunate but necessary.
“This was a really difficult thing for us to do,” said Paula Baldwin, “because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it’s bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others.” She did not explain that statement or why it was really necessary to go after some priest’s one-Beetle operation in Wisconsin. Baldwin did claim that Best Buy is now trying to work with Strand to alter the logo enough to allow him to use it without infringing.
“We’re confident,” she said, “that together we’ll come up with a good (dare we say heavenly?) solution for everyone.” Maybe Father Strand will grant her absolution for that joke, but I cannot.
This 2009 post at DuetsBlog discusses some prior Geek Squad trademark enforcement efforts, including a complaint against individual defendants allegedly using “Geek Patrol” and “Geek Squad Patrol” for much more similar business efforts. The post also lists and links to dozens of other marks that also contain the word “geek,” including “Geek.com,” “Geek for Hire,” “Seek a Geek,” “Speak With a Geek,” and probably the geekiest geek mark of all, “Where No Geek Has Gone Before.”