Best Buy's Geek Squad has been a huge success--giving customers access to gadget and technology experts, also known as Geeks.
But do they own the term?
They seem to think so. At least in marketing and trademark circles.
The world's largest electronics chain recently threatened legal action against Newegg.com, saying that its "Geek On" advertising slogan sounded too similar to Best Buy's "Geek Squad."
In true Geek fashion, Newegg took to the social web and responded by posting the cease-and-desist letter on Facebook--prompting a Best Buy consumer backlash for trying to commandeer a common word that in the Wall Street Journal's words "has enjoyed a bigger metamorphosis than the ugly duckling."
Best Buy says it is simply defending its Geek Squad trademark against overzealous competitors. "It is not just the word geek, it is the word geek with orange and black coloration" that puts Newegg over the line, says a Best Buy spokeswoman. The company isn't just going after Newegg. It has disputed more than a dozen geek-themed trademarks in the past decade including "Rent a Geek," "Geek Rescue." and "Speak With A Geek."
Apparently, they even sent a letter to a Wisconsin priest who had put "God Squad" in a logo reminiscent of the Geek Squad's on the side of his Volkswagen beetle, the same kind of car driven by Best Buy's repairmen. After some "friendly" conversations between priest and big-box giant, the priest removed the logo.
"I was extremely surprised. We were just doing this as a way to spread the gospel in a humorous way," says the Rev. Luke Strand, who says he has "tried to move on."
Best Buy also objected when "Chuck," an NBC comedy about a computer savant who becomes entangled in espionage, wanted to use "Geek Squad" as its setting. The character wound up working for a "Nerd Herd" tech-support service at retailer "Burbank Buy More."
To us, Best Buy is being a bit of a dweeb--not a Geek.