Monday, August 16, 2010
Best Buy: "Father, Cease and Desist with the Bumper Sticker, or Else!"
"Father Luke Strand has God on his side but geeks on his back. The priest at Holy Family Parish in Fond du Lac is the recipient of a cease-and-desist letter that came from Best Buy's corporate offices concerning his 'God Squad' vehicle.
His black Volkswagen Beetle seen driving around the city sports door stickers with the name 'God Squad,' in a logo similar to the black, white and orange logos that identify vehicles driven by Best Buy's Geek Squad. The black-and-white Geek Squad Volkswagens are used by the company's computer technicians.
Strand said he could not discuss the issue but did mention the cease-and-desist order during a 9:30 a.m. Mass on Aug. 8 at St. Mary's Church in Fond du Lac. The God Squad traces its roots back to the summer of 2007 when then Deacon Strand was given the car by the Rev. Quinn Mann of the Diocese of Green Bay. The car sports its 'God Squad' logo on each door and is also on Web sites thinkpriest.org and cyexpedititions.org. The license plate reads GODLVYA. The front is painted to look like the roman collar Strand proudly wears.
A press release issued by Matthew Rodenkirch, communications assistant at Holy Family Catholic Community and titled 'Many of You Have Been Asking' states: 'Father Luke Strand has been contacted by Best Buy as it would relate to his 'God Squad' car. He is working with Best Buy to resolve the issue. More information will follow as it becomes available.'
In a story published by The Reporter in August 2009, Strand, who was then a new priest in Fond du Lac, stated: 'It stimulates a lot of conversation. People don't always know when the right time is to start a conversation about faith questions. The church is alive, young and vibrant. This is a new and creative way to bring the faith I love into everyday life. But I have to watch how I drive, of course.'
Best Buy, a Minnesota-based electronics retailer, did not return messages left by The Reporter with its public relations department over the course of four days. However, Paula Baldwin, senior manager for public relations at Best Buy, did make a statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a story the newspapers published on Saturday.
Baldwin said 'the company aggressively defends its trademarks' and notified [Father] Strand 'because of the unfortunate similarities between their logo and ours.'
She went on to say in an e-mail to the [media]: 'This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it's bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others.' Baldwin said Best Buy is working with Strand to alter the God Squad logo in a way that it will still work for him without infringing on the Geek Squad trademark. 'We're confident that together we'll come up with a good solution for everyone[.]"