Speedo gets knickers in twist over 'salacious' blogger

Speedo is suing an Australian blogger for breach of trademark, claiming that his websites are damaging its brand.

Last Updated: 22 Sep 2011

Dave Evans runs the aussiespeedoguy websites, which show pictures of men posing suggestively in the tiny ‘budgie smuggler’ trunks. This week, the company began legal proceedings in the Federal Court in Canberra aimed at blocking the sites, claiming that the ‘nudity and graphic sexual content’ is offensive, and that his regular use of the word Speedo is a breach of its trademark.

Speedo reckons the ‘substantial and valuable reputation and goodwill’ tied in with the brand are at risk from all the raunchy manliness. For some reason the brand wishes to be associated by the long lineage of medal-winning or record-breaking athletes who triumph while wearing their gear, rather than Evans’ introduction to his site, which states that ‘I have a huge speedo fetish and speedos have played a huge role in my sexual experiences’ (maybe if he gave mention of any records he's broken Speedo may take a different tack).

The company also claimed that Evans was undermining the brand by earning money from online subscription services. As such this case is a snugly-packed example of the perils of modern publishing. On the one side, the company needs to protect its IP, given that it’s a hugely valuable commodity which has taken years to build. On the flip, it’s hard to strike out against stuff like this, given that it’s bound to strike a chord with the public imagination, and for a company to display a total lack of sense of humour in the age of social media can often do more damage than the initial problem.

Evans has written in a recent post that he should be allowed to continue to use the word Speedo because it has become a ‘generic term’. Anyone who agrees may wish to dig out the old episode of Alan Partridge, where the pedantic TV host rails about the ignorance of misusing the terms Hoover and Tannoy.

The long and short of it is that you can’t really control how people use your brand these days. Maybe Speedo could take the lead of another sub-cultural association – rap music and bubbly. When gangster rappers started promoting booze brands like Cristal in their songs, many drinks companies worked hard to distance themselves. Others eventually realised it was free advertising and actively nurtured the association. If Speedo was really brave it’d be all over those blokes like baby oil.

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