Maybe we need something to take our minds off impending war but the fake Puma ad story is taking on a life of its own. Instapundit implies that Bill O’Reilly thinks the ads are real (CORRECTION: Mr. O’Reilly was really talking about PONY and it’s use of a porn star for its ads. I guess PONY and PUMA are confusingly similar). MemeFirst reports that it was called by Puma and asked to take them down. Salon was asked to remove the ads on the Reverse Cowgirl’s Blog (which also reprints some reader comments from Adland). Some people are speculating that Puma did create the ads in order to deny them. Some people are speculating that Adidas created the ads. I suspect either Walt “Clyde Puma” Frazier’s involvement or that of the Dancing Baby.
As to the threats that are being bandied about to those folks reproducing the ad on their sites, let’s go over some (U.S.) ground rules. If you’re not using the trademark in commerce, you’re not infringing and you’re not diluting. If you re-publish a false statement with the indication that it is false (and in fact publish it because its falsity is news), then you are not commiting libel or trade disparagement. Now, if you’re the person who created the ad, and then disseminated it indicating that it was an authentic Puma ad, that’s a different analysis.