Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Are Mr. Peanut, Skippy, and SPAM Moving into the Virtual World? Recent Trademark Applications by Hormel Foods Suggest So

As the metaverse becomes more and more popular, many brands are filing trademark applications for virtual versions of their goods and services. Hormel Foods LLC is no exception. On July 14th, the food company filed a federal trademark application for the Mr. Peanut logo seen below.

But that application doesn't cover peanuts. Instead, it covers the goods and services listed below:
  • Downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio, and video relating to food and beverages, authenticated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs); downloadable virtual goods, namely food and beverage products for use in virtual worlds
  • Online retail grocery store services featuring virtual food and beverage products for use in online virtual worlds; provision of an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of downloadable digital art images, video and audio clips, authenticated by non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Entertainment services, namely, online, non-downloadable virtual food and beverage products for use in virtual worlds
Hormel filed the application on an intent-to-use basis, suggesting it is not currently offering these goods and services in conjunction with the Mr. Peanut logo, but has a bona fide intention to do so in the near future. See TMEP 806.01(b). Hormel will be required to prove it is actually using the Mr. Peanut logo in conjunction with these goods and services in order to obtain the trademark registration.

This is not the first trademark application filed by Hormel Foods covering virtual goods. Earlier this month, the company filed applications for PLANTERS, MR. PEANUT, SKIPPY, and SPAM covering the same goods and services.

Trademark applications for virtuals goods are becoming more and more popular as companies seek to exploit business opportunities in the virtual world and expand their trademark protection into the same. Might you be buying virtual Skippy peanut butter and SPAM in an online grocery store soon? It appears so.

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