I apologize for not blogging this sooner. Mattel sold (in 2006) a series of toy cars named MOTOWN METAL. You can buy these ‘new’ on Amazon, but I’m not sure if they’re still in stores. Pictured above is the 1970 Chevelle. My parents had a ‘Malibu Gold’ ’69 Chevelle and it did not look like this. The Chevelle was discontinued in 1977. Anyway, Mattel filed for MOTOWN METAL and UMG, owner of Motown Records opposed on confusion and dilution grounds, winning on both (decision below). I agree with TTABlog’s analysis, in that we’re not so sure about this.
Mattel has now appealed to the Central District of California, adding a request for a declaration of non-infringement (which is interesting, as the cars appear to have been on the market since 2006).
There are marks that are famous but still have alternate meanings that are triggered by context (TIME and APPLE are the first two I could think of in a hurry). Then there are completely unique marks that do not have alternate meanings and are not dependent on context.
These were MOTOWN METAL toy cars, where Motown is a nickname for Detroit, where cars made of metal come from. What if these were TEENAGE MUTANT TURTLE METAL toy cars (or, just to rib UMG, STAX METAL toy cars).
Image from here.