Home Depot Sued Over Ad Slogan

Atlanta, GA, Oct. 29--Sunshine Ace Hardware, an old-time hardware chain in southwest Florida that has seen Home Depot open several stores in its back yard, isn't backing away from its fight with Big Orange. Sunshine Ace sued Home Depot in June in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, FL, saying the company's "You Can Do It. We Can Help" advertising slogan violates a trademark held by Sunshine Ace. The chain, which has four stores compared with Home Depot's 1,618, is asking a federal judge to bar Home Depot from using the slogan. Home Depot and Sunshine Ace have taken a "do-it-yourself" approach to settling their dispute. They are trying to schedule voluntary mediation and may resolve their differences within 90 days, according to a motion filed by Sunshine Ace attorneys last week. Home Depot confirmed the discussions Tuesday. Sunshine Ace may not get a permanent injunction, but the Naples, FL, chain probably will not walk away empty-handed, according to marketing experts. The "You Can Do It. We Can Help" slogan is at the heart of Home Depot's $350 million ad campaign. Home Depot has applied to register the slogan with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but the office has not yet determined whether to approve the application. "I'm sure they don't want to lose it," said Ken Bernhardt, regents professor of marketing at Georgia State University. "It's a perfect slogan for Home Depot." However, Bernhardt said, Home Depot could find another slogan to reinforce its message that it can help do-it-yourselfers with household repairs and improvements. Mediation makes sense because the company could pay Sunshine Ace for the slogan with money Home Depot would have used to pay attorneys' fees, Bernhardt said. Sunshine Ace began selling hardware in 1964 and has been using the "You Can Do It. We Can Help" slogan "for a matter of years," the company's attorney, Jennifer Whitelaw, has said.