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M&M/Mars, Eminem and Apple in a three-way lawsuit


M&M/Mars, makers of 57 varieties of delicious chocolate snacks, recently launched a line of custom colored and custom imprinted M&M’s. (For real, you can now eat your logo.) Of course, they have long been known for selling bagfuls of the individually colored candy. The candy was developed under government contract during WWII, because the Pentagontalist Priests wanted a snack for soldiers that wouldn’t melt. Well, it turns out that they not only own the name M&M, but also the concept of multi-color modules, too. Accordingly, they are suing Eminem for stealing their name, and for poor speling. They have also decided to sue Apple for introducing the multicolored iMac G3 which resembles an M&M. They are claiming emotional distress, marketplace confusion, and cannibalized sales. They were paid by the government to create this new chocolate technology, and now they want the government to protect their monopoly. Pundits think their case against Eminem is very strong, since almost everyone loves chocolate, and Eminem is an adolescent punk.

Eminem meanwhile is suing Apple. It seems that Apple had the poor taste to include his music on the iTunes store, and Eminem is claiming that they don’t have the right to sell it. (I can only imagine what he would say if they were giving it away.) Evidently, M&M thinks, sorry, Emena thinks Apple is stealing his music by selling it and paying his distributor who has the rights to Emenas flatulance, I mean music, the standard industry rate. Emena wants more evidently, and he likes to play hardball. He sued Apple previously for using his songs in a commercial. That case was settled out of court, so it isn’t clear who disemboweled who, but presumably Emena got what he wanted. I can’t help but think that maybe his beef is with his agent, not Universal (who controls his catalog,) and not Apple. By getting Apple’s lawyers involved maybe he can build his case. Of course, this is a guy who still whines about his Mommy and I think even sued her at one point. I suspect that he is probably getting the representation he deserves at $600 an hour. He must have hired someone a lot like himself.

Apple, in turn, is considering counter-suing both M&M/Mars and Emena. Their defense is that Jonathan Ives invented modules of color, while under contract to Apple, and that they hold all rights to pleasant color sensations. They point to the iTunes Visualizer as an example of their expertise in creating eye candy, which a bag of M&M’s can’t do. While we all love Apple, I think the chocolate-makers will win this suit, too, and Apple will be forced to immediately cease production of iMac G3’s. But will the injunction include multi-colored iPods, like the Shuffle? Those are all rectangular.

I think there is a personal story behind this lawsuit. My suspicion is that Steve has flown over the Mars mansion in New Jersey on his way to the penthouse in New York, and he thinks it would make a really cool Apple Store, or the perfect spot for his glass cube swimming pool. Since M&M/Mars is a $16 Billion privately-held company, they will swat Steve like a gnat if he buzzes them again. This lawsuit is just a warning shot, and their competent lawyers will give the word to have it dismissed. What’s more interesting is Emena’s ability to get under Apple’s skin. He is obviously no lapdog like Bono and John Mayer. Why would Apple fight for Universal’s right to sell Eminem’s music? The logical thing to do would be to pull his crap from the catalog, and let those two duke it out. However, if Eminem wins this suit, then a lot of recording artists would suddenly find themselves in control of their own music….now wouldn’t that be interesting?

Will the artists re-sign with the record labels? Many are complaining that they don’t like iTunes. They want their “fans” to buy the entire disk, and to not cherry pick songs. Oh what Lords these artists be! How dare the peasants nuance their adulation with a critical ear! What do they know of music or cake and sweet chocolate treats!

Other artists, of course, would welcome the opportunity to control their own destiny, not because of greed. Others have probably figured they could get a bigger and direct cut from Apple without the middleman, and without hurting their fans. As usual, the dumbest people make the loudest noises. Apple would hate to deal with individual artists whose egoes are as big as theirs. It is the structure of the recording industry that has made the iTunes store possible.

The recording industry is a lot like that song by The Charlie Daniel's Band “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Who is to blame when there is so much greed and so many players? Everyone wants to be the best in the world. Everyone has their hands in the till of their “fans.” The oligarchy is short on "give" and has a lot more "take" in their recipes.

How is it that our eyes and ears hunger as much as our bellies? Our brain must be stimulated, either by creating (like writing, music etc.,) or by consumption (like reading, listening, etc.) Branding and money has nothing to do with it, but ego does cloud people’s judgment in what they give and what they take.

Oh well. At some point everyone must eat their own words, even me. Eminem's whining will be his future feast. I’m just gonna enjoy my M&M’s in the meantime, and they won’t have a custom logo on them. My stomach won’t know the difference, but my ears do discern Eminem's adolescent agnst. What fools these heroes be.