08 April 2007

[logo_design] A State Of Kramden*

756 It is safe to say, I think, that a state of direst kramden* exists between Moonstruck Chocolatier and Moonray Espresso. It's all over their logos, of course.

First reported in The Oregonian about two weeks ago, our very own Moonstruck, them whose exquisite and quite delectable truffles have seen two tours of Oscar® swag-bag service has seen fit to ring up Moonray Espresso, a coffeeshop of but a single branch in Duvall, Washington (though, to be fair, there seems to be aspirations to empire; their single store is listed on a "Locations" page.

As anyone who was raised in the age of "look and feel" must be aware of by now, subjective impressions count for a great deal. Microsoft and Apple tusseled over it for a very long time with respect with the GUIs of Mac OS and Windows. At the basic level, subjective impressions are the stock in trade of logos. This little graphic image must not only be designed brilliantly, it also has to leave a first impression that the logo-bearer is of a percieved benefit to the consumer or user.

Similarites also tend to, on a certain level, promote the impression of a relation–or, more succinctly, things that look alike tend to have something to do with each other, and in the world of commerce, usually means either the one is born of the other, or the other is trying to identify with the one. This is what Moonstruck is accusing of Moonray.

M-O-O-N, That Spells Copyright Infringement

The beef that Moonstruck has with Moonray seems to be that the Moonray logo (featuring a crescent moon with a highly- (and highly-effectively styled...we enjoy this logo muchly) lady lounging within) is very close to the Moonstruck logo (featuring a crescent moon with a dancing, Pan-eqsque flutist within)...close enough, in fact, that Moonray is effectively hoping that consumer confusion with the Moonstruck logo will garner them more sales.

In essence, Moonstruck's position is that Moonray is trying to hitch themselves to Moonstruck's star...or, moon, perhaps.

To the man on the street, the assertion might seem just a little bit risible; our initial off the cuff reaction is that they both trade on the Moon and perhaps some legendary imagery but we are having little trouble distinguishing between the two. From our POV, we'd expect not so much to be sold Moonstruck at Moonray except as, perhaps, an item on one of thier shelves.

Taking a more analytical view, though, we still find significant differences. The presence of the crescent moon supporting (in heraldic talk) the figure are indeed both common to both designs. However, we feel that's where the similarities definitely end. For there to be a real indication of alliance, in our minds, there must be more differences. The dancing male flutist is clearly not a recumbent female; the rendering style is clearly different; the Moonray symbol is closed with a brilliant disk backing it; the logo type styles are different, and the type is even arranged differently.


Regrettably, however, the dispute has been sent to the courts; this humble assay would perhaps be irrelevant, regardless of how perceptive we feel it to be. And we don't necessarily disapprove of Moonstruck's basic behavior; frequently, protecting business identity is important enough that it must be taken even when it seems pointless to the average man or woman on the street. We believe there's a principle in the law that holds that if you don't move to defend your design, then you didn't really care all that much to protect it; IANAL, of course.

But also there's the street-level concept of wisely choosing ones' battles, and we fear that Moonstruck hasn't exactly struck properly here. From our reading of the news article, we recall that one of Moonstruck's concerns was that they would be seen as a bully here, and both sides have been strenuously casting themselves as Davids, with no Goliath to be found.

Regrettably as well we feel that, despite Moonstruck's averrings to the contrary, they will be seen to be the Goliath here whether they want to be or not.

Like we said, we are not lawyers. But, from the point of view of the consumer, perhaps a strategic withdrawl is warranted for Moonstruck. You can't unsue a person, and Moonstruck's already bruised themselves on that accord, but you can say "hey, maybe this wasn't such a good idea."

Moonstruck thinks we'll be confused by the similarities in logo. We rather disagree.

* kramden is a term used in the satirical book Doon, by Ellis Weiner, which in case it isn't clear, makes mad fun of Frank Herbert's masterwork. Kramden, a play on the vendetta called kanly, is said to be "a state of vendetta between two Houses who ought rightly be best pals".

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