Internet comic The Oatmeal is back in the legal spotlight after a Massachusetts greetings card company began litigation against the comic for allegedly infringing its trademark.
According to Ars Technica, who first reported the story, the popular Web comic's creator Matthew Inman is being sued by Oatmeal Studios, after Inman joined forces with Recycled Greetings to offer greetings cards based on The Oatmeal's comics.
This caught the eye of Oatmeal Studios, which then filed a suit against Inman in a Boston, Mass. courtroom, claiming a trademark on the term "Oatmeal Studios."
The suit claims that Inman's The Oatmeal sounds "confusingly similar" to Oatmeal Studios' trademark "that is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or is likely to deceive consumers."
(You can read the full suit here.)
Oatmeal Studios is asking the court to force Inman to cease using "The Oatmeal" as his comic's name or any similar variation thereof, and to pay Oatmeal Studios damages.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Oatmeal Studios said it had sent a cease and desist letter and filed a complaint after it discovered a rival greeting cards company announced the introduction of The Oatmeal-based cards. "This large company has known about Oatmeal Studios® and competed against us for years, and we are simply trying to protect our name and defend our rights," the statement added.
The lawsuit comes only months after Inman and The Oatmeal prevailed in a suit against rival humor network FunnyJunk, after he claimed that the site was copying his work.
FunnyJunk's lawyer Charles Carreon subsequently accused Inman of defamation and demanded $20,000 in damages. However, Inman raised more than $200,000 from avid readers of the Web comic, but didn't pay FunnyJunk a cent after lawyers from the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF) stepped in.