Breaking Bad Contests Trademark of Baking Bad Cooking Show
For five seasons, the show Breaking Bad brought drug kingpin Walter White into homes across the globe. The chemist teacher who became a meth cook was at the forefront of one of television’s most critically acclaimed programs. That popularity continues today, and that’s one of the many reasons producers of the series filed a trademark opposition against a trademark application for Baking Bad.
Breaking Bad Trademark Dispute
On January 31, 2022, Sony Pictures Television filed a trademark opposition against Thomas Mihill. That name may not stand out to most people, but the term Baking Bad may ring a bell. That’s because — as Sony states in their opposition — “the mark sound[s] and look[s] similar” to Breaking Bad.
In March 2021, Thomas Mihill filed an intent to use trademark application with the USPTO. While Breaking Bad centered around the cooking of an illegal drug, Baking Bad seems more geared toward cooking culinary treats. The witty turn of phrase may not make it to production, however, if the USPTO finds merit in the claims listed in Sony’s opposition.
In that notice of opposition, Sony claims that a likelihood of confusion exists. For that to be true, parties typically must operate within the same or a related industry. While Breaking Bad and Baking Bad would certainly hold the similarity of both being television shows, would consumers really mistake a cooking show for one of the most popular fictional series ever?
A Trademark Extending Into Food Service
The documents filed by Sony list dilution and likelihood of confusion as grounds for opposition. Trademark dilution by blurring would seem like an obvious claim. For instance, it’s easy to see how the registration of Baking Bad may weaken the association in consumers’ minds between Breaking Bad and their licensed products.
Within their opposition, however, Sony also points to a likelihood of confusion. That’s because — while the products certainly haven’t gained as much attention as the television show — Sony has used Breaking Bad intellectual property within the food and beverage category. These ventures include Heisenberg Blue Ice Vodka, Schraderbrau beer and Los Pollos Hermanos pop-up restaurants.
While the Breaking Bad universe has expanded into other visual media, the name has not yet been used for a cooking show. Since trademarks from the series have been used within the food and beverage category, however, this means Baking Bad could serve as a direct competitor. More importantly, though, consumers could associate the two. This makes Sony’s claim of potential confusion hold more weight.
What Happens Now?
Assuming the applicant for Baking Bad gets no extensions, he has until March 12, 2022 to respond to Sony’s opposition. Failure to do so will result in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) finding in Sony’s favor.
If both parties decide to move forward with their disagreement, though, the TTAB case may not conclude until 2023. For now, we’ll have to wait and see how the Baking Bad creators respond. While the play on words is certainly witty in nature, it’s that very wit that puts it in direct conflict with Breaking Bad trademark rights.