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Best Buy not Amused by Competitor's Geek Ad

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

According to retail giant Best Buy, Newegg's "parody" commercial is anything but funny. Best Buy's cease and desist letter sent to Newegg also did not have the intended effect.

Newegg has posted a copy of the letter on its Facebook page.

Why does Best Buy find this commercial so offensive? And, what should small business owners take into account if they're looking to make some parody advertisements of their own?

At first look, the commercial really does seem to take place in a store that looks suspiciously similar to the layout of a Best Buy store. And, the teen salesman featured in the short commercial is wearing a dark blue shirt, the staple uniform of Best Buy employees.

The commercial runs from the vantage point of a consumer wondering which computer to buy. He asks the salesman what the difference is between two laptops, and the salesman reads the cards in front of the two laptops, then answers that he doesn't really know.

Then, the commercial finishes up the advertisement by pitching Newegg, an online-only retailer, and with the phrase "take it from a geek."

The cease and desist letter was sent to Newegg last month from Best Buy's attorneys, reports The New York Times.

The letter states that the parody commercial is infringing on Best Buy's rights. It further says that it is "unfair competition that disparages our employees, confuses our customers and damages our valuable trademarks and the goodwill associated with those marks."

Is there merit to Best Buy's cease and desist letter? It seems heavily weighted in Newegg's favor. Parodies are often protected as "fair use" so long as they cannot confuse consumers and mislead consumers into thinking they are real. Newegg's commercial seems to fall into the lines of a parody - and if viewers were watching the entire commercial, they would know that the commercial was meant to be a dig at Best Buy, and was not meant to be a truthful 30-second documentary about the inadequacies of Best Buy's sales reps.

Sadly for Best Buy, Newegg's parody has garnered almost 600,000 views on YouTube at the time of this posting. And, Best Buy's cease and desist letter? Not as effective as they would have hoped.

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