Trademark spat divides Pebbles

Humorous injunction highlights the lighter side of crowdfunding.

An upstart company raising funds for a portable amplifier called COBBLE has run afoul of U.S. trademark laws.

That's because COBBLE used to be called PEBBLE, and Pebble is the name of a certain smartwatch company. Pebble (the watch company) asked Kickstarter to suspend the audio-amplifier-formerly-known-as-PEBBLE's campaign until the upstart changed its product's name.

Here's what PEBBLE's--er, COBBLE's--press person told me:

"In less than 24 hours of the campaign on Kickstarter, we have surpassed 50% of our funding goal. However, with the new found success, we have been notified to change the name of our "pebble-shaped" micro audio amplifier. Pebble (the watch) has reached out to Kickstarter and requested us to change our name because apparently they have the word "Pebble" trademarked. Going forward, COBBLE will be used as the product name for all marketing activities."

pebble-audio-amplifier-2.jpg

Unfortunately, the COBBLE, as it's now known, looks a lot like a pebble.

But Kudos to the PEBBLE-cum-COBBLE team for the mid-campaign pivot, for owning the goof, and for pressing on. Crowdfunding isn't supposed to be polished, it's supposed to be a showcase for promising ideas.

If you're in the market for a small battery-less audio amplifier for your smartphone--or if you're tired of Big Smartwatch walking all over the little guy--check out the project page.