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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

'Unicorn meat' poke at pork prompts board into legal alert


PORTLAND, Ore. - It's official: The National Pork Board says unicorns don't exist.

The industry group said it was protecting its trademark when it issued a cease-and-desist warning to online retailer ThinkGeek for calling a fake unicorn-meat product "the new white meat."

The fictional product, described as an "excellent source of sparkles," was an April Fool's prank.

But the 12-page letter from the board's law firm was no joke.

"We certainly offered our apologies," said Scott Kauffman, President and CEO of Geeknet Inc., the parent firm of ThinkGeek. "It was not our intention to confuse the public as to the attributes and qualities of the two meats."

In a public apology this week, ThinkGeek said its nonexistent canned unicorn meat is not approved by any government entity.

"We certainly understand that unicorns don't exist," said Ceci Snyder, vice president of marketing for the National Pork Board. "Yes, it's funny. But if you don't respond, you are opening your trademark up to challenges."

The council said it is in discussions with the company.

"Where we feel victimized, is I don't know of another organization that does more to promote pork products than our site," Mr. Kauffman said, noting the firm sells about 20 real items related to bacon, such as bacon gumballs and bacon soap.

ThinkGeek "launches" mock products every April Fool's day. The firm said it was surprised the board did not complain about another prank item this year, "My First Bacon," a talking stuffed toy that looked like a slice of bacon.

"To be attacked in this manner, given all we do for pork, the irony is not lost on us," he said.

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