Caven blog

Chubby Checker to sue Hewlett Packard

An absolutely stonking story, this one.

Until 2012 an app, the Chubby Checker, was available to download through Hewlett Packard software for their Palm OS software. Now the original Chubby Checker is suing HP and the company that made the app, Magic Apps, for $500m.

‘Chubby’ is slang for an erection, and the app was designed to be an amusing piece of software allowing women to estimate the size of a man’s penis. You can see why they used the name – it’s great.

Their original marketing text shows how seriously it was meant to be taken:

‘Any of you ladies out there just start seeing someone new and wondering what the size of there (sic) member is. All you need to do is find out the man’s shoe size and plug it … with The Chubby Checker there is no need for disappointment or surprise.’

The standard of grammar is a fairly strong indicator of seriousness.

Chubby Checker (Ernest Evans) has launched a suit which claims that the app ‘tarnishes’ his stage name. His lawyers believe the app has done ‘irreparable damage’ to his reputation by associating him with sexual content.

It will be really interesting to see what occurs with this lawsuit. There are various factors which will come into play. Firstly, Chubby Checker is a trademark, registered in 1997. Trademarks protect the public from believing one company or product is actually a different product – there are lots of companies with the same name. Is this a factor?

Secondly, the amount. $500m is an awful lot of money. Certainly his lawyers will be claiming a loss of earning potential, but this is hard to gauge. In terms of real cash, the original development company, Magic Apps, is now out of business. And apparently the app was only downloaded around 100 times, at 99p per download.

But there is another argument in the real Chubby’s favour. It could be argued that the app was trading off his name by association, and that people believed he was endorsing it, like George Foreman.

The lesson is to be careful when choosing a product name. What excites at the beginning could end up being a disappointment, or a big problem. Protect yourself from getting stiffed.

Original story:

The Register

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