Explicitly yours

American University Law ReviewTomorrow I will be on a panel called ”Warning, the Following Material May Be Explicit: Addressing the Efficacy of §2(a) of the Lanham Act” as part of American University Law Review’s annual Federal Circuit Symposium. It’s being held at Arent Fox, whose web page promoting the event says:

The American University Law Review’s Volume 63 Federal Circuit Symposium will assess the Lanham Act’s section 2(a) bars to registration for immoral, scandalous, and disparaging marks. Prominent legal academics, practitioners, and a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board judge will discuss relevant cases, the provision’s varying effects, and its remaining value.

You can also register at the link and you should do that ASAP!

Obviously I will once again be discussing the Federal Circuit appeal by our client, Asian-American musical performing ensemble group The Slants, from the TTAB decision affirming the denial of a trademark registration for THE SLANTS on the ground that they are Asian-Americans.

I had the opportunity to present on this topic in Cleveland exactly a month ago.  That, however, was an hour of stand-up; this is a panel, which mostly features sitting and nodding.  My fellow panelists are Jim Bikoff from Silverberg, Goldman & Bikoff LLP, Professor Michael Bressman of Vanderbilt Law School and — yes, Finnegan again! – Doug Rettew of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner.  The program starts at 1:00 PM with my panel, which will last from 1:00-2:30.

The second panel features my friend Professor Christine Farley from American, TTAB Judge Linda Kuczma, and Professor Sarah Hinchliffe, visiting professor at William and Mary Law School. Arent Fox’s resident rock starPamela Deese, will act in all things as moderator.

As interesting as that is, my real point is that you are not exempt from attending this event just because you think you already heard “this” in Cleveland.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Originally posted 2006-01-02 12:47:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Evan Schaeffer hosts this week’s Blawg Review #38 and credits Likelihood of Confusion for going light on the cliches. All’s well that ends well!

Foul baller

Originally posted 2007-03-27 00:42:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Say it ain't so, Joe!

A former major leaguer goes from giving up runs to running from the law. From pitch counts to multiple counts. From pitching and hitting to counterfeiting. From –

You get the pitcher.

EFF backs eBay in Tiffany spat

Originally posted 2008-12-05 00:01:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

See, we don’t agree with Public Citizen all the time!  Read on, via the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

[EFF] along with Public Citizen and Public Knowledge urged a U.S. court of appeals Wednesday to reject jewelry-maker Tiffany’s attempt to rewrite trademark law and create new barriers for online commerce and communication. . . .

“Millions of Americans use sites like eBay and craigslist to buy and sell goods,” said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Michael Kwun. “If Tiffany had its way, sites like eBay would be responsible for figuring out whether items its users are selling — items eBay itself never sees — are authentic or counterfeit. That’s an impossible task.”

It is?  Where are the metrics for “impossible”?  Can we start with nearly half a billion dollars in quarterly profits in the third quarter of this year? How do you get from that to “impossible”?

Here’s the EFF amicus brief.  Lots of talk about “burdens,” and “impossible,” but no data.  Yes, as a general rule the burden of proof is on the plaintiff in civil matters, but hasn’t Tiffany shifted that burden by coming forward with the undisputed claim that massive amounts of counterfeit merchandise is being sold on eBay?

Now take a look at the amicus brief of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), written by my friend David Bernstein and his partner Bruce Keller and counsel Michael Potenza. Read More…

Farewell to Cox & Forkum

Originally posted 2007-10-03 15:23:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

John Cox did that great caricature of me on the right navigation bar.  

Now Cox & Forkum have given up editorial cartooning, to our loss.  Their work together is how John’s talent came to my attention — that and a referral from Chris Muir, who can sure draw pretty girls but not, he told me, super hunky lawyers.

Thanks for a good run, guys!

Patent jobs

Originally posted 2007-07-10 23:04:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dennis Crouch has them now, if you like that sort of thing.

Law blogs and legal recruitingperfect together!

Tons of tweeting

Yes, it is measured in tons.  You never heard of guano?

Anyway, here’s what the blog’s official Twitter account, @likely2confuse had to say over the last few months, along with a few topical tweets via @roncoleman:

Organization for Transformative Works

Originally posted 2007-12-13 18:00:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Organization for Transformative Works

This is very interesting:

The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.

It’s a copyright thing. Via Boing Boing.

UPDATE:  Some background from Glenn Reynolds.

IP’s Ancien Régime

L'Droit, c'est moi

L’Droit, c’est moi

Instapundit linked to an abstract of a law journal article called ”IP in a World Without Scarcity” by Mark Lemley at Stanford.  Fun fact from his Stanford bio page:  ”His works have been cited 140 times by courts, including seven United States Supreme Court opinions, and over 9,500 times in books and law review articles.”  Well, Mark, that’s all very nice, but now you’ve made the big time!

Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

Things are valuable because they are scarce. The more abundant they become, they cheaper they become. But a series of technological changes is underway that promises to end scarcity as we know it for a wide variety of goods. The Internet is the most obvious example, because the change there is furthest along. The Internet has reduced the cost of production and distribution of informational content effectively to zero. In many cases it has also dramatically reduced the cost of producing that content. And it has changed the way in which information is distributed, separating the creators of content from the distributors. . . .

The role of IP in such a world is both controverted and critically important. IP rights are designed to artificially replicate scarcity where it would not otherwise exist. In its simplest form, IP law takes public goods that would otherwise be available to all and artificially restricts their distribution. It makes ideas scarce, because then we can bring them into the economy and charge for them, and economics knows how to deal with scarce things. So on one view – the classical view of IP law – a world in which all the value resides in information is a world in which we need IP everywhere, controlling rights over everything, or no one will get paid to create. That has been the response of IP law to the Internet so far. . . .

But that response is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, it doesn’t seem to be working. . . . Second, even if we could use IP to rein in all this low-cost production and distribution of stuff, we may not want to. The point of IP has always been, not to raise prices and reduce consumption for its own sake, but to encourage people to create things when they otherwise wouldn’t. More and more evidence casts doubt on the link between IP and creation, however. Empirical evidence suggests that offering money may actually stifle rather than drive creativity among individuals. Economic evidence suggests that quite often it is competition, not the lure of monopoly, that drives corporate innovation. The Internet may have spawned unprecedented piracy, but it has also given rise to the creation of more works of all types than ever before in history, often by multiple orders of magnitude. . . .

Far from necessitating more IP protection, then, the development of cost-reducing technologies may actually weaken the case for IP. If people are intrinsically motivated to create, as they seem to be, the easier it is to create and distribute content, the more content is likely to be available even in the absence of IP. And if the point of IP is to encourage either the creation or the distribution of that content, cost-reducing technologies may actually mean we have less, not more, need for IP.

If you’ve been with me — and certainly if you’ve been with me for long — much of this will sound familiar.  I’m not saying I was the first one to say it, which would be preposterous.  In fact, I used to believe very strongly in the moral rectitude of IP “enforcement,” or, rather, anything someone who owned IP asserted was enforcement of that IP.

I have since come to understand how many false premises that formulation contains.

Read More…

Free Expression in Israel

Originally posted 2005-08-30 11:14:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jonathan Rosenblum has important thoughts.

If not NOW, watch which?

Originally posted 2013-04-16 11:48:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Matthew David Brozik

If not MDB, who?

On April 15, a company called E. Gluck Corporation filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District an uncomplicated, eight-page complaint alleging infringement upon a registered trademark it owns by another company, one Strickland Fuller Partnership. The plaintiff company “creates, designs, and has manufactured for sale watches.”

“The trademarks owned by plaintiff include the NOW trademark at issue herein.”

Yes, the trademark owned by the plaintiff, “extensively advertised and promoted” by the plaintiff, and now allegedly being used in violation of the law by the defendant in connection with the sale of other watches (albeit in the phrase Now is the time, “with the NOW portion… highlighted”) is the word NOW.

Allegedly, since 1986, E. Gluck Corporation has “continuously marketed and sold millions of watches under its NOW trademark… nationwide to the public through thousands of retailers and on the [I]nternet.” The NOW mark is registered with the USPTO in connection with watches. The registration is incontestable, constituting prima facie evidence of the plaintiff’s ownership of the mark and its exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the sale of watches.

Indubitably, the USPTO would not (have) register(ed) the word WATCH* for use with watches. Or TIME.** Next on that list should be NOW. (After that might be WHEN.)


How is the word “now” not generic when used in connection with the sale of watches—items whose primary function and purpose is to tell you what now is? That is, when is now? That is, it is always now, but when, specifically, is now? In terms of time? What time is it (now)? Look at your watch.

Even if NOW is not a generic term in connection with the sale of timepieces—devices designed to keep track of now—the phrase “now is the time” is so banal, so bland, and so… well, generic itself as to hardly rise (or sink) to the level of infringement of the word NOW (it seems to this writer, anyway). Now is always the time, after all. No?


*Although there is, of course, SWATCH.

**Likewise, TIMEX.

Your Twitter ways frighten me

Originally posted 2011-05-12 20:43:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Passaic Memorial Park - Spring 2011

I followed a couple of hundred people on Twitter so you don’t have to!  Here are topical tweets I’ve enlightened twitterkind with via @roncoleman since the last time I rounded these up ’round the Ides of March:

Really, what else would you even need to know?