Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best Buy Takes on Priest for Copyright Violation Over 'God Squad' Mobile

It's God versus the Geeks.

A major electronics retailer is threatening legal action against a Wisconsin priest over his "God Squad" vehicle, claiming the logo on the clergyman's Volkswagen Beetle is identical to its own "Geek Squad" design.

Rev. Luke Strand, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Fond du Lac, Wis., is no longer using the logo after Best Buy served him a cease-and-desist order, arguing that his religious vehicle is a copyright violation of its famous "Geek Squad" mobile.

The trademark of "Geek Squad" -- a Best Buy subsidiary that offers computer-related services to customers -- is a black Volkswagen Beetle with a catchy sticker logo on its front door. Strand's vehicle, also a black Volkswagen Beetle, has a black and white circular logo on its door that reads "God Squad." Rosary beads hang from the car’s rearview mirror and the license plate says "Godlvya."

"They feel that the shape and the font of the logo and the fact that it's on the Volkswagen bug causes confusion with their Geek Squad," Rhea Behlke, a spokeswoman for the church, told

"They really have a responsibility to protect their trademark," she said. "There’s absolutely no animosity. He understands their position -- legally they have to do that."

"He's very aware that every company has to protect its trademark and that 'Geek Squad' is a protected trademark," Strand’s fellow clergyman, Rev. Bob Stiefvater, said in an interview with WLUK-TV.

Behlke said Strand has driven the "God Squad" around Fond du Lac for a "number of years" as a "creative way to bring God to the streets."

"It's just another tool to make the church open and accessible to people who may not otherwise feel comfortable approaching a priest. That is the purpose of the car and that will continue to be the purpose of the car," Behlke said, adding that the "God Squad" vehicle "will continue in some form."

A representative for Best Buy was not immediately available when contacted Tuesday by The company reportedly struggled with its decision to order Strand to give up his logo.

"At the end of the day it’s bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others,” Paula Baldwin, a spokeswoman for Best Buy, said in a statement.


  1. and legally I have a right as a customer NOT to purchase at Best Buy. Like anyone would confuse the two... ::eye roll::


  2. I will no longer shop at Best Buy either and I will pass this along to family members - and I come from a very large family. Word of mouth works wonders.

  3. Personally, I don't think Best Buy is in the wrong to send the order here. Any company would do the same, as they should, to protect their trademark. Heck, even the Fr. Strand understands that.

    In the end, God will prevail through that priest in a different, more creative way.

  4. My favorite part about the priest's car is the front logo in the design of a roman collar. Awesome! But I think Best Buy is correct on this, it was a blatant copy violation of their logo.

  5. Let's not go off the deep-end here. The following link is a good summary of why you may want to re-consider boycotting Best Buy for this:

    More specifically:

    “This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it’s bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others,” [Paula Baldwin, senior manager for public relations at Best Buy] said in an e-mail.

    I can appreciate that sincerity. When Best Buy DOESN'T pursue such claims against other religious or ideological abuses of its logo, then I'll raise an eyebrow to them.

    In Christ,

    Matthew Wade

  6. I wonder what the reaction would be if an Imam had done likewise, with the exception of having an "Allah Squad" logo.

  7. Mauman - I think they would call it "Jihad Squad" ;-)