This month, we finally got a decision in a legendary music copyright case. No, I’m not talking Led Zeppelin prevailing in their claim that they didn’t rip off “Stairway to Heaven.” Who cares about that? Robert Plant doesn’t even make soft serve ice cream. I’m talking, of course, about protecting the rights of the Mister Softee jingle.
Last year, ice cream truck company Mister Softee filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that a rival brand, New York Ice Cream, was illegally using the distinctive song Mister Softee blasts from its trucks, calling children to its wares like some sort of sugar slinging Pied Piper. Perhaps tacitly copping to his company’s guilt, New York Ice Cream owner Dimitrios Konstantakakos didn’t even respond to the suit, according to the NY Daily News, meaning Mister Softee won with a default judgement. What does this mean for all of us? Now whenever we hear the Mister Softee jingle, we can be assured it’s a Mister Softee driver that is driving us crazy by playing that damn song over and over.
It’s been a turbulent year for Mister Softee. In April, the composer of the brand’s jingle, Les Waas, passed away at the age of 94. Then, in May, the New Jersey-based ice cream brand made national headlines after the New York Times reported on exactly how bad its turf war had become with New York Ice Cream, a brand launched by a former Mister Softee employee.
“This is a victory in our ongoing cases against those who violated their franchise agreements and continued to use Mister Softee's registered marks,” Frederic Jennings, the company’s lawyer, said, according the NY Daily News. Who knew the ice cream truck game was so tough? Maybe these guys should have taken the easy route and found jobs on Wall Street?