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Goldman on Ticketmaster

Originally posted 2007-10-23 00:22:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Eric’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog asks whether “the public interest got screwed” in the recent big win for Ticketmaster down in Alabama against RMS, a company whose software outsmarted Ticketmaster’s sales system. Copyright infringement was a lynchpin of the holding.

Ticketmaster-LogoI was once consulted on a similar case and I was hoping that it was that same former client that lost this one — because the son of a gun stiffed me on my fee! But because of that experience and the analytical framework I ended up working through while considering similar issues, I’m sympathetic to the defendant there, and to Eric’s take on it, too:

It’s easy to point at RMS and its customers as the bad guys. After all, they are trying to get an unfair advantage in the first-come, first-served allocation of scarce tickets for their economic benefit, with the result that later comers have to pay more to get the same tickets.

But what about Ticketmaster’s role in this situation? They haven’t designed a technologically gaming-resistant allocation of tickets, so they need legal help to solve that deficiency. I also remain suspicious about Ticketmaster’s incentives here, both in setting prices and in policing against ticket allocation gaming. Their motives may not be nearly so consumer-friendly as they try to portray.

Well, no company is as consumer-friendly as it likes to portray itself. But Ticketmaster? Go ahead and Google it. It’s not pretty. On the other hand, is a company really obligated to “design[] a technologically gaming-resistant” business model before it can have recourse to the law to enforce its rights? I don’t think Eric means that, either. Read, as they say, the whole thing, though.

Hey, 19

Originally posted 2008-02-02 20:27:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

product-19.jpgMore on the dumb trademark-abuse story of the season (we’ve dealt with the SUPER BOWL and trademark overkill here and here already). Now there’s this SUPERcilious beaut [link to 2008 story is gone — RDC]:

After the Lakers won two straight NBA titles in the late-80’s, their coach Pat Riley trademarked the phrase “three-peat” so he could cash in on merchandising associated with their third straight crown. The Pistons took them out in the Finals, though, and Riles had to wait for the Bulls to achieve the feat before seeing any return on his craftiness.

The Patriots spit on that history. The New York Post reports this morning that the team has filed paperwork to patent trademark the phrases “19-0″ and “19-0 Perfect Season” in advance of this Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup with the New York Giants. And, lest you think they waited until they were in the title tilt before moving forward, the team actually filed the applications three days before the AFC Championship game was played. The Pats say that the move is strictly business and not motivated by arrogance.

Nor by the remotest understanding trademark law. We’ve already dealt with the sorry concept of seeking registration of free-floating catchphrases and similar nonsense. Hat tip to Nick Daly, who writes, “I was watching NY1 this morning and Pat Kiernan covered this story, saying “if they can trademark a number, then I want 5.” The number “5,” or five numbers? After all, if you can own the trademark to any you shouldn’t have a limit. We’re not running out of them or anything — unless you including running out of “fives,” 19’s or, perhaps, googols.

UPDATE:  Read and enjoy this law review article:  “OPPORTUNISTIC TRADEMARKING [sic] OF SLOGANS: IT’S NO CLOWN ISSUE, BRO.”

Must-read IP

Originally posted 2007-12-17 17:46:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The TTABlog designates as “Recommended Reading” Scot Duvall on the The Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006.  From John’s description, he makes the Act all kinds of “balanced” and stuff.  Maybe I’ve been too harsh.

Foiled again

Originally posted 2007-10-10 23:53:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The TTABlog mourns the sporting demise of the Chicago Cubs’ season, alluding to the “curse of the Billy Goat”:

Now, I’m not sure I follow exactly — John Welch (left) being a proper Bostonian and all — but I have Marty Schwimmer (center) figured for a Mets fan (if anything)… and that’s harsh enough. And me, well, I am a Yankees fan, son of a Yankees fan. Even the billy goat beard (long gone) didn’t prevent the bad baseball demons of subterranean Chicago from attaching themselves to me for deposit in the Big Apple.

So far so good for Welch, then; not so good for us New Yorkers. Whatever bad mazal we brought from Chicago, well, somehow, so far, it hasn’t followed John.

Reproducing book covers?

Originally posted 2008-02-18 22:41:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Nolo’s Patent, Copyright, and Trademark Blog engages a common type of inquiry:

Dear Rich: I have a question. I’m starting a literary website and I’d like to put up a lot of book covers. Do I have to get permission from the book publishers?

I’m so glad you asked.

And I’m so glad Rich Stim answered! You (and your clients) will be too.

Spiritual balm for clerkship-seeking law students

Originally posted 2008-02-23 22:42:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

YodaIn a totally random way, I ended up linking to an old piece about my adventures seeking a first-year summer associate position at my other blog.

Then after some very flattering feedback, I figured some readers of this blog might enjoy it, especially law students, so here it is, freshly warmed from 1987.

Warning: It’s written in a form of late middle English rarely used in this country any more. But you should be able to get the gist. (The original post is here.)

Copyright belongs to the ages

Originally posted 2008-03-23 17:14:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

US-CopyrightOffice-Seal.svgMedia Wonk:

No wonder they call Economics the Dismal Science. At the Internet Video Policy Symposium in Washington yesterday (co-sponsored by Content Agenda), a chorus line of academic economists postulated that content owners face a far more difficult challenge than they know in monetizing their content on the Internet, and that the odds that we can build our way out of the current debate over how to manage scarce online capacity are virtually nil.The most enthusiastically glum was Gerry Faulhaber, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chief economist for the FCC. According to Faulhaber, copyright is a dead letter.

“Copyright is a very big issue in the legal world today, but in the business world, when you talk to consumers about protecting copyrights, it’s a dead issue,” he said. “It’s gone. If you have a business model based on copyright, forget it.”

Provocative, I suppose, though it sounds like an overstatement, and not necessarily all that logical. The copyright regime has never depended on the opinions of non-stakeholders, merely the ability to penalize them for infringement. The technological / legal dance is far from over. I would say that the Microsoft business model, to give one example of one that is “based on copyright” at least in part, is not exactly in “forget it” mode, and will not be all that fast.

But that’s not to say it looks good for copyright as a linchpin of monopoly-type business models in the future. No, no, no.

War Is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Originally posted 2007-03-28 19:08:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

And free speech is a form of negotiable intellectual property, right?

Maybe I can give up the blog. There is no percentage in clever commentary when the claimants provide the self-parody.  Credit to Instapundit.

The usual stupidity

Originally posted 2007-12-23 21:14:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I’m Not A Trademark, Bro!:

AT! admires the entrepreneurial nature of the applicants for the following marks: DON’T TASE ME, BRO! for various shirts, DON’T TAZE ME BRO! for books, puzzles, posters, and the line, and DON’T TASE ME, BRO! for jackets, pants, and other clothing. However, we question whether the applicants appreciate how a trademark is used and what it is. Section 45 of the Lanham Act defines a trademark as: “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof- (1) used by a person or (2) which a person has a bona fine intention to use in commerce… to identify and distinguish his or her goods… . In essence, a trademark is a source identifier. A trademark is not trivial phrase of pop culture that may adorn an article of clothing or pamphlet.

Nnnyes.

Web Two Whoa

Originally posted 2007-05-03 19:47:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Microblogging?  Oh.  He means this.

Microblogging? Oh. He means this.

Diane Prange writes:

If you’re among those who think Web 2.0 is overhyped, you’ll appreciate Jim Louderback’s snide take on the terms he heard tossed around and the things he saw people doing at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Here are a few of my favorites.

Twitter – Transmit your every thought to, well, everyone at the touch of a button! This new micro-blogging platform allows you to annoy your friends with all the mundane things you do every day. So, instead of writing a blog post every few hours that details all of the deep thoughts you’ve had, you can spew them out to e-mail, IM, and cell phones as soon as you think them! And, with only 140 characters, the more shallow or vacuous, the better! […] It’s a great tool for finding your friends on a Saturday night. It’s a lousy way to build a business.

. . .

Jim Louderback thinks it sounds like 1999 all over again. Nonsense. We’ve got much better names this time around.

Plus medals! We’ll get medals!

Whaddya know!

Originally posted 2006-12-17 11:21:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

MustangLogo1The Mustang Ranch trademark case has finally been resolved — and it turns out that prostitute proprietor Lance Gilman gets to claim the trademark for the whorehouse he done boughten after all.  Ho-ho-ho!

Fishy business

Originally posted 2008-02-10 23:19:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Funny things happen to trademarks in the Casbah.  John Burgess at the Crossroads Arabia blog has a story about a recent incident of Saudi Arabia’s religious police overplaying their considerable hand in connection with the arrest of a Saudi woman for having coffee with a colleague at Starbucks.

Not our topic.  But this aside did grab me, considering the special attention Starbucks and its trademark adventures have gotten on this blog over the years:

Starbucks and the religious police have a bit of a history. When the company first arrived, its logo of a mermaid caused some consternation because some thought they could see breasts beneath all that hair. To avoid problems, Starbucks came up with another logo, a seahorse. [I do wonder how the police reacted when they learned that male seahorses give birth! Talk about ‘gender bending’!!] By 2003, however, the mermaid was back on the signs, cups, and napkins. What happened to occasion that, I haven’t a clue.

Perhaps she swam her way into their hearts, or their coffee cups.  Or, more likely, the heat was off — at least for a while.

Now the heat is back, albeit on questionable grounds.  You can be sure we will milk the story here for all it’s worth.

UPDATE:  Oddly enough, this story has perked up once again.  According to the And Far Away blog, the 1992-2010 Saudi Starbucks logo was not a seahorse, but this “a crown swimming in the sea” — here, you take a look:

The real story, though, says Roba Al-Assi, is the “chadorable” logo Starbucks al Saud is about to switch to — or, which, as she says in the post, she can only imagine….

I’m not sure all her commenter’s “get it” — maybe they hadn’t had their first cup yet.