Post Brands in Trademark Dispute with Band OK Go
OK Go performing at a January 2012 show in Orlando, Florida. drserg /

Post Brands in Trademark Dispute with Band OK Go

The Lakeville-based breakfast foods manufacturer attempted to trademark the name “OK Go!” in spring. That didn’t sit well with the band’s legal team.

Lakeville-based breakfast foods manufacturer Post Consumer Brands is in a legal tussle with pop-rock band OK Go.

The fight began after Post filed a trademark application for the name “OK Go!” for its new line of breakfast cereal back in May. That set off a round of bitter correspondence between lawyers for Post and the band. On Jan. 13, the battle culminated in a complaint filed by Post in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota.

In May, Post submitted an application to trademark “OK Go!” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to Post’s lawyers, the office “raised no objections” with the company’s proposal. “The USPTO did not make a finding that Post’s proposed use of OK GO! is likely to cause confusion with [the band’s] Alleged Mark or any other mark,” Post lawyers wrote in the Jan. 13 complaint.

However, in September, a lawyer for the band sent a cease and desist letter to Post, alleging that the company’s use of the name would “cause confusion” and “lead to false association.”

“As a result of the commercial success that OK Go has achieved in collaborating with brands across the spectrum of consumer products and services, the OK GO mark has developed enormous good will and is strongly linked with OK Go in the public’s mind,” wrote attorney Alexander Kaplan on behalf of the band.

Post’s legal team, of course, disputed that claim. In an October letter, the company’s attorney said that “OK GO is a very common term that is concurrently used and registered by many different parties across a spectrum of different goods and services.”

Kaplan then escalated the battle and noted that the band “will not hesitate to take any action that is necessary to protect its OK Go name and mark.”

In December, Post even offered a “branding collaboration/co-marketing arrangement in an effort to resolve this matter,” but the band rejected it. That’s when Post filed its suit in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota. The company is asking the court to rule that its use of the name “does not violate” the band’s rights. Post also requests that the court award the company its attorney fees and “other monetary relief.”

Post’s OK Go! cereal officially hit the market this month.

Post and OK Go haven’t always had a troubled relationship. In fact, in 2011, the two collaborated on a YouTube video series to promote Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats. “Given Post’s work with OK Go, and its obvious awareness of the band and its reputation, OK Go was surprised and alarmed to see that Post has filed an intent to use trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the mark OK GO!” attorney Kaplan wrote.

But that didn’t hold much weight with Post’s legal team. The company’s lawyer said that “no one at Post involved in the proposed use and registration of OK GO! (neither the creative team nor the legal team) had any knowledge or awareness” of its past work with the band.

“Given the length of time that has passed since that limited collaboration over a decade ago, the very small number of views indicated on the YouTube videos you referenced, and the general consuming public’s rather short attention span, it will also have absolutely no bearing on consumer perception of Post’s mark OK GO! used with cereal or cereal-based snacks, and will not lead to any mistaken association with [the band],” Post’s lawyer wrote in response.

Founded in 1998, OK Go has been the star of several viral videos, including a gravity-defying video produced with support from a Russian airline.