Best of 2009: Companies versus their fans

Walter Olson:

The real thing, God save us.
The real thing, God save us.

The famous maker of candies and candy-dispensers is suing the owners of the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in Northern California, claiming that its venture into Pez homage, which includes a Guinness-record largest replica of a Pez dispenser, infringe the firm’s trademarks and “deceive the public into thinking that the museum is operating under the authority of Pez.”

You can just imagine how fans feel when they realize this is not true — that the giant Pez dispenser, the whole Pez moment they were sharing with their families was unauthorized…. counterfeit… illicit.

Well, deceived of course!  That’s how they feel.


Yes… they stare stupidly ahead at the interstate the whole ride back home, not knowing whether to feel like the most naive marks ever to be duped into thinking a Pez collection was authorized, or whether they should be securing counsel and begging for peace and no worse than nominal damages and attorneys’ fees — and of course a permanent injunction with molto back-end liquidated damages and then some — for their own sordid part in the whole scummy charade.  For at some point, after all, you have to reckon with wilfull blindness, even on a consumer’s part. And if you press the point, really, think it through…

They knew it, really.  They never really believed, in their hearts of hearts, that this was authorized Pez.  This is never how the Pez people would do it.

But what harried parent could take a stand and turn down the chance to save a few bucks and stretch out a family vacation to include one more tacky “attraction” in lean times… and to hell with Pez, and their decades of hard-earned brand equity, all those licensing fees duly paid to manufacture miniature heads (authorized heads, damn it!) (no, not that kind!) of Popeye and Mickey Mouse and President Kennedy so these beloved friends to all children could effortlessly open their gullets and dispense those delicate light-fruity lozenges of Pezzy pleasure into those tiny, expectant fingers …

And now?  Now what’s the lesson for sad little Timmy and bawling little Judy in the back of the minivan — now that they know what Mom and Dad knew all along:

“Museum of Pez Memorabilia”?  Pez?!  You want a real Pez museum?  …

You can’t HANDLE a real Pez museum!

UPDATE:  From the Pez Museum website, or so it appears to be:

Joint Press Release:
On February 25, 2010, the parties participated in a Court-ordered confidential settlement conference before a federal magistrate judge. At the settlement conference, PEZ Candy Inc. and the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia reached settlement of the lawsuit and the lawsuit has since been dismissed. The parties have agreed to keep the details of the settlement confidential.

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.