Small Whimsical Resistance From Quakers To A Big Corporation
I really enjoyed Jarrod McKenna’s tweet yesterday…
Here’s the post:
Orange County Friends Meeting
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Dear Mr. William Lovett:
I am the attorney at the Quaker Oats Company responsible for trademark matters. As you probably know, our company manufactures numerous food products, the most famous of which is oatmeal. In addition to having used the Quaker Oats name as our company name for close to 100 years, we have registered the Quaker name as a trademark.
It was therefore quite a surprise to discover that you are operating a business under the name “Quaker Oats Christmas Tree Farm.” Your use of our trademark is likely to mislead consumers into believing that your business is associated with the Quaker Oats Company. It is also likely to weaken our very strong trademark. In light of the foregoing, we hereby demand that you immediately stop all use of the “Quaker Oats” name…. While we would like to settle this matter amicably, we will take all steps which are necessary and appropriate to protect our name.
Janet L. Silverberg, counsel
Dear Janet Silverberg:
My breakfast this morning—rolled oats by the way—was interrupted by the arrival of your letter via FedEx, which was delivered to us despite the fact that you have misspelled our company name which is Quaker OAKS Christmas Tree Farm. Our farm was so named because religious services were held outdoors on this farm under a great oak tree until about ten years ago when we were able to move into our new Meetinghouse on another corner of our farm.
Our business is 100% owned and operated by Quakers. I suspect that your firm employs considerably fewer, if any, Quakers. We trace our Quaker ancestors back 320 years and they were mostly farmers, but I don’t know how many of them grew oats for your company. My guess is that you may be selling far more Lutheran oats, Methodist oats, or maybe atheist oats. Could your company be guilty of product source misrepresentation?
We don’t know why you choose to associate your commercial products with our faith, but we supposed you feel there is some marketing value from it. If you were selling machine guns, roulette wheels or some other product offensive to our Quaker faith, we would be upset by the association, but since we find your products wholesome and enjoyable, we consider your use of our name a compliment. We invite you to visit our farm to verify that we are indeed Quaker Oaks Christmas Tree Farm. If you come in December, we’d be happy to sell you a tree!
Love it, that’s hilarious!
I have a large regard for Friends – more commonly known as Quakers. One of the reasons I like them so much is that, from inception in the 1600s, their spiritual priorities include treating women as equal to men. Not equal in most things but excluded from meaningful leadership – spiritual or otherwise – but truly and absolutely equal before God and men. They also have always placed a central emphasis on quiet listening before God. Even the evangelical branch of Friends do this, and they hear all voices with the same weight – there is no measuring the message based on the speaker’s place in the church or society. They are a people who reach for peace and gentleness – more modern activist protests an exception. It’s a marvel to me that their faith community continues to shrink – only about 400,000 worldwide. Theirs is a movement that has had a very significant impact on the world, including in England where they began such socially progressive businesses as Rowntrees and Barclay’s Bank. Not to mention their pioneering advancements when they came to the U.S., in education, nonprofits and businesses with a conscience. Thank you for this post – it is wonderful.