Jellyvision, the minds behind the popular “You Don't Know Jack" series of games, has filed a lawsuit against insurance company Aflac for trademark infringement.
The complaint, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeks an injunction to prevent Aflac from using the phrase "You Don't Know Quack" as part of their online web-game marketing scheme.
Here's where the weird part comes in: Jellyvision also owns a website called Healthcare Mentor, presumably why Aflac's insurance game bothers them so much. The site even touts Jellyvision's history as a pioneer in "Interactive Conversation" (GP: Fancy word for quiz games?).
The interesting question will be whether Jellyvision can claim that Aflac's use competes with its own. Trademarks are categorized by a "goods and services code", which as the name implies, limits the fields of goods and services that the mark can exercise power over. While Jellyvision's only active trademark for "You Don't Know Jack" dates back to 1995, it is registered under the goods and services code for "computer game programs recorded on CD-ROMS."
Jellyvision used to have three more trademarks for "You Don't Know Jack" falling under goods and services codes for things like "online computer game services", "providing on-line interactive computer games [...] providing computer games that may be accessed network-wide by network users" and the like, but those marks have all been either cancelled or abandoned. Jellyvision certainly will have an uphill battle on their hands.
Dan Rosenthal is a legal analyst for the games industry.