Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In the Case of Yogurt v. Yogurt

Yesterday KosherCook, KosherCop, and I were out and about having some free fun (a trip to the toy and hobby shop to look at model trains instead of shelling out 14 bucks for the same thing at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds). We were over at Federal Plaza in Rockville, where we noticed that a new yogurt shop opened up called Yogiberry.

So after we pried KosherCop away from all the trains (he literally walked up and down the model train aisles going, "Ooh! Ooh! Oh Wow! Ah! Ooh!") by finding some free catalogs for him to take (and I point out they were free because most of the catalogs were for sale in this store) we went to check out the new yogurt place.

Now the original reason I was going to write this post was because this Yogiberry place had a promotion that really offended KosherCook. It was aimed at Stay-At-Home-Moms with 10% off on certain weekday afternoons. And at the bottom it actually said the offer was for Moms only. So KosherCook pointed out to the guy at the counter that he was a Stay-At-Home-Dad and this wasn't fair. The counter guy actually seemed concerned that this was in fact unfair, but then suggested that I could perhaps send KosherCook with a note saying he had my permission to get the discount or something ridiculous like that.

So my plan was to post this for all the SAHDs that have ever been discriminated against. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the exact details of the promotion, so I went to the website hoping it would be online and eventually started Googling to see if it was online anywhere. I didn't find the promotion. What I did happen upon was actually much more interesting to me.

Apparently a California based yogurt company called Pinkberry has sued this new Maryland based Yogiberry company for infringement of their trademarked name and service marks and for basically imitating their concept and brand.

The reason I find this so fascinating is that I've done identity design work as a graphic designer and it is a big fat pain in the tuchus. Coming up with a company's identity is the fun part - sitting there and figuring out the rules of usage for their logo - which colors, how much room must be left around the logo - not so much fun. It is just as annoying to have to learn and put into practice these rules for every client you design for. But it's done for a reason, and there are laws in place to protect these marks for a reason.

Having already been to Yogiberry's site I went to Pinkberry's site to see if their logos were really that similar. I didn't really think they were. But both sites were very spare with a lot of pastel.

Then I looked at the picture of Pinkberry's interior of their shops - okay I was starting to see their point. When we went to Yogiberry, one of the things that was so cool about it was the decor. Ultramodern, pastel, colored lucite chairs and white tables...a lot like this. The big brown wall was white at Yogiberry, but other than that it was pretty similar to that picture. I looked around some more and some of the pages of the websites had some really similar images. Check out the toppings and shaved ice pages on both sites if you're interested, and Yogiberry starts looking pretty shameless.

And of course, aside from the design similarities, the whole concept of the type of products being offered seems to be a total rip-off of Pinkberry. Pinkberry actually has a franchise program, so now I'm wondering did Yogiberry just not feel like paying licensing fees, did they apply for a franchise and get rejected, or did they just like the concept and think that no one would notice if they opened a similar business on the other side of the country?

KosherCook has a different take on this, however. He pointed out while we were in Yogiberry - before I found out about this lawsuit - that most clubs these days have decor very much like they do. So using that as a jumping off point, I suppose this can all be explained by recent trends in pop-culture. But, come on, those images on the site are REALLY similar.

So guess whose image I'm using for this post? That's right, I linked to one on Yogiberry. They seem like they have their hands too full right now to sue me for wrongful use of their image.

And why am I writing about frozen yogurt on the eve of the most historically important election in many of our lifetimes? To take my mind off it. Because I can't take the suspense. I just want to vote already. Only 6.25 hours until the polls open and we can vote!

And after the election, if the results are favorable and a celebration is in order, perhaps we will go out for a delicious frozen treat...ice cream - because frankly, it's a lot better than frozen yogurt.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading in the NY Times food section about the explosion of these yogurt shops on both coasts. I hadn't heard of YogiBerry before, but I'm willing to bet that the yogurt there actually tastes a little sour, right? This trend (sour yogurt shops) started in Japan or Korea (or both, I can't remember now), then spread to the U.S. All the older yogurt chains here sold stuff that tasted pretty much exactly like ice cream (all sweet, no sour). Apparently, competition between these new chains is pretty intense, and they do accuse each other of copying decor and trademark-type stuff. I can't remember the names of the other chains a the moment, but PinkBerry's definitely one of them.

    I don't think any of them are headed to America's Most Boring City anytime soon, but I can dream. I love sour frozen yogurt. That's what we served at Scoops, that Kosher ice cream place where I worked for a while in high school.



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