The persnickety pigs could have told Patrick Simpson-Jones he shouldn’t mess with those Angry Birds. They are very persistent.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami granted a request for a permanent injunction against golf equipment supplier Angry Club LLC and ordered Simpson-Jones to file the necessary paperwork to abandon his company’s name and logo by Christmas.
Rovio Entertainment Ltd., the developer of the popular Angry Birds game franchise from Finland, filed a trademark infringement suit against the Key Biscayne company in October, claiming Angry Club’s logo of a red A with furrowed eyebrows was too similar to the iconic birds.
If Simpson-Jones didn’t comply, he would be liable for a $500 fine for each day he violates the order, Cooke ruled.
“Consumers are likely to be confused into believing that the Angry Clubs products are somehow affiliated with, sponsored by or otherwise connected with Rovio and its Angry Birds marks,” the judge wrote in her Nov. 25 order.
Simpson-Jones wasn’t enthusiastic about his chances when the lawsuit was filed, comparing himself to David in a fight against Goliath.
“It seems as of today a Finnish company owns the word angry and the color red,” Simpson-Jones said Tuesday. “We looked at it, and we decided if we were going to fight it wasn’t a matter of who was going to win, it was how much was it going to cost us.”
Rovio’s game is based on a player catapulting birds at structures made by pigs. It has spawned numerous video versions and related products including board games, stuffed animals and even golfing accessories. More than 12 million copies of the game have been purchased from Apple Inc.
The year-old Angry Club drew its name from its signature golf-swing training club, which is supposed to take the anger out of a frustrated golfer, Simpson-Jones said. A recorded message on the club tells the player to calm down. The company’s putter tells golfers to loosen their grip, and its ball retriever tells golf jokes.
Simpson-Jones is taking Cooke’s order in stride. The company will rebrand its product the Oh —- Club. It actually uses the dashes in its name.
He said he and several partners decided their money would be better spent on product development and manufacturing than paying attorneys for a case they might not win.
“It is something that will make everybody laugh, and all golfers can relate to it. It’s basically something that makes everybody smile,” he said. “It was a question whether it was worth fighting it. Morally yes, financially absolutely no.”
Rovio attorney J. Michael Keyes, a partner at K&L Gates in Spokane, Wash., said, “We are very pleased with the decision and believe it is a significant indication as to the strength of the Angry Birds mark in the marketplace.”