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Occupying trademark

Originally posted 2011-11-08 11:19:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

So eventually all the “big trademark stories” catch up to you, even if you try to avoid them as you would try to avoid … certain assemblies of people in certain locations.

Paul Elias of the Associated Press asked me what I thought about the OCCUPY WALL STREET trademark application, and that turned into this story in the Washington Post:

[Wylie] Stecklow, the attorney for the protesters, says he believed his clients will prevail because they’ve been using the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” for months before the first application was filed….

“This rush to trademark was entirely expected and predictable because this is what everybody does,” said Ron Coleman, a trademark lawyer and author of a popular trademark blog. “The irony is too rich.”

Coleman predicted the New York protesters would prevail because they’ve been using the phrase the longest. Nonetheless, he questioned how the trademark could be managed by a group claiming to be leaderless.

“Who has authority to speak on behalf of the trademark?” Coleman said.

Prevail, I said, as opposed to the t-shirt makers out West, discussed in the story, whose date of first use is both later and, it seems pretty obvious, is entirely ornamental.  Then there’s the admission that, well, “Vincent Ferraro of Fer- Eng told Cable News Network that his company had no affiliation with the movement and simply filed the application as a business proposition.”  That quote should pretty much deep-six that registration.

In terms of the last quote from me in the AP story, just to be clear — and Paul was typing as fast as he could,* but those don’t sound quite like my precise words — what I meant in the last quote was along these lines: Read More…

One nation, under gods

Originally posted 2006-09-30 23:42:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

David Bernstein weighs in on an issue, not irrelevant to this blog (where the First Amendment is a topic), I blogged about on Dean’s World a few weeks ago (I recycled the title, which is just too good to only use once): The admission of paganism into the pantheon of “officially approved” religions.

Obviously, there’s not much to talk about. The Supreme Court made it clear over a decade ago that even “primitive” or “barbaric” religions — I use the quotes, as I have throughout this post, advisedly — that freedom of religion is hardly meaningful unless extended across the board.

Along similar, but entirely different lines:  My thoughts on Yom Kippur, of a decidedly less but still somewhat universalist hue, are posted here at Dean’s World this morning, the eve of the fast.

Move on, already

Originally posted 2014-04-09 07:50:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Yet another chapter in the abuse of supposed trademark rights in “catchphrases” — now from MoveOn, the “freedom” people.

The purveyor of an “infringing” T-shirt ran for the hills, intimidated unjustly — classic “big IP” stunting at work. (Why don’t these folks even try to find pro bono lawyers? I’m not the only one who would have handled this case for free.)

IP doth make villains of us all! (Speaking of evil — another hat tip to Instapundit, too!)

De-Branding Columbia University’s Nazi triumph

Originally posted 2012-07-09 13:55:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

(First posted September 24, 2007)

“If Columbia is not ashamed of the decision,” writes Justin Hart, why did it de-brand Holocaust denier / promiser Ahmadinejad of Iran at today’s controversial speech by blacking out the podium behind him, unlike the “Columbia” motif provided as a background for past Columbia speakers (see at the link)? (No information was available if their would-be Hitler program would have had the same backdrop.)

A good question, and not a difficult one. Hat tip to Instapundit.

Counterfeit rodent gets the cheese

Originally posted 2007-07-02 19:31:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


Decadent western culture is rat obsessed, it’s true. But sometimes the rodent has to take one for the team. Now, in true Islamist fashion, but with an IP twist: How to avoid (mostly theoretical) trademark / copyright liability while still being …. defiant?

MEMRI TV shows you how (transcript) — the video is here if you ken.

Mouse-ears tip to Lynn B!

Trademark McCrisis? (Or, McArabia)

Angry at McDonaldsIs this good for McDonalds’ branding (click here for my personal favorite URL)?

I’m not so sure it’s that bad. Having your trademark publicly desecrated by the perpetually unhappy — the people, as Jonathan Rosenblum puts it, “for whom life itself is an insult” — because your mark is the happy symbol of American convenience, hospitality, tasty enjoyment and, well, let’s say free enterprise — isn’t the worst thing that can happen. (Via Instapundit.)

McDonald's AbroadBy the way, notice how the “angry” guy’s friends are cracking up as he does his performance for the cameras. Five will get you ten that he’s doing this to impress a girl.

Chicks love this stuff.

Yes, this cross-cultural business is confusing, isn’t it?

Best of 2005: Cleaning Up, or Getting Their Clocks Cleaned?

Posted on August 19, 2005.

I stumbled on this article in Slate and it seemed to contradict my point in one of my favorite posts. On reflection I realized that actually the two pieces actually harmonize quite well.



It did make me wonder whatever happened in the ClearPlay litigation. As the company’s site describes it,

ClearPlay has developed a unique DVD parental control technology that enables users to skip and mute segments of movies that contain graphic violence, nudity, and profanity.The seven major Hollywood movie studios, along with fifteen prominent film directors and the Directors Guild of America have joined their collective resources to sue ClearPlay in an attempt to strip American families from their right to use ClearPlay enhanced parental controls within the privacy of their homes.

Oddly enough, the timeline of the court case on that site ends in 2004. But judging from the firm’s selection of news stories on another page of its website, the company evidently anticipated that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act may have made the litigation irrelevant.

Not that ClearPlay doesn’t have other problems — like a patent suit that’s scaring off some partners. While it’s one thing to edit the sludge that oozes out of Hollywood, editing your own press releases and website — which make no mention of the progress of either the copyright litigation or the patent claims — seem like less of a great idea in the long run. Read More…

Fishy business

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.

Politically incorrect trademarks, continued

Bad feelings from (not so?) long ago get played out across the China Straits.

Just how much should trademark registration reflect personal, national, or ethnic sensibilities? This question continues to linger.  But not in China.

UPDATE:  Looking for a post about the TTAB’s Redskins decision maybe?

Sewage Treatment

The issue of companies that technologically filter the sludge that oozes out of Hollywood in order to preserve a semblance of entertainment or enlightenment in that product line, while perserving other sensibilities, is bubbling up. We addressed it earlier; naturally, it’s now being litigated. This is a fascinating topic and one that is addressed very thoroughly in an article in the New York Law Journal (registration required).

Here’s the heart of the matter:

Making copies of a movie and offering them for sale or rent, of course, is a plain violation of copyright law. To avoid this problem, editing companies buy multiple legal copies of each movie they offer so that they always retain a one-to-one ratio of ‘cleaned-up’ copies to originals. Some editing companies package the original DVD along with the edited copy — sometimes in disabled form –so it is clear that each sanitized copy is backed up by a legitimately purchased original. Under this scheme, the editing companies argue that they cannot be doing harm to content owners. In fact, they assert that, by establishing a new audience for these movies, they are actually increasing revenues to the content owners. This argument ignores the fact that a copyright owner has the exclusive right to create and sell derivative works from its content. If a market exists for cleaned-up movies sold at a premium, the studios argue that it belongs to them, not the editors.

The other solution is the use of a hardware filter. Here, again, is a powerful excerpt on what’s at stake: Read More…