The Seventh Circuit is puzzled how anyone could confuse Land O’ Lakes dairy products with Land O’ Lakes fishing tackle. It all started when Land O’ Lakes (the dairy guys) wanted Land O’ Lakes (the fishing tackle guy,) to license the name. The fishing tackle guy refused. So the dairy guys opposed the fishing tackle guy’s trademark application. Then the fishing tackle guy filed suit. In the end, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment dismissing all claims. Judge Posner stated: “Can one imagine Land O' Lakes advertising: ‘we sell the finest dairy products and the best fishing tackle?’ . . . So in this unusual case two firms sued each other though neither had been, is, or is likely to be harmed in the slightest by the other. The suit was rightly dismissed.”
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS. It’s natural to want to protect your trademark from anyone who uses it. Certainly, you want to protect against customer confusion. But there are limits. Likelihood of confusion does not arise when two parties adopt the same or similar word or phrase and use it for diverse products or services. Just ask Pandora for music and Pandora for jewelry.