John Welch asks, in his naive but charming way:
TTABlog query: Who, if anyone, owns the rights to the mark MEET THE BLOGGERS? I coined the term in 2005, and Marty Schwimmer and I hosted the first two events (San Diego and Toronto) under that title. Ron Coleman joined us for the third, in Chicago. And Jeremy Phillips (IPKAT) was responsible for the Berlin meeting. [Ms. Chestek! Ms. Pamela Chestek! Please pick up the white courtesy phone. We have a trademark ownership question!]
The “mark” MEET THE BLOGGERS?
I guess Mr. “Acquired Distinctiveness” still doesn’t get it…
On the other hand I happen to think at least the moral rights to the term, and if there is a trademark that as well, do indeed reside in John along with Marty Schwimmer, seeing as how they first used it in commerce, jointly, the first two years.
I always assumed it was “theirs,” and, well, I did associate the term with a single source (them, jointly — by which I mean as an unincorporated association, not “both single sources at the same time”). I assumed last year’s use was under license (and it was overseas anyway) and therefore did not in any way undermine their claim to the term.
That’s why I was a little surprised to learn from John and Marty, upon an email inquiry as to whether I could join them again in sponsoring the event in Seattle this spring as I did in Chicago two years ago (um, that was me, wasn’t it? I thought so…), that it was out of their hands: Seattle homeboy and blog-meeting usurper Mike Atkins had unilaterally declared sponsorship by his firm, and that was all she wrote.
In fact, this “Meet the Bloggers” event is not only being sponsored by Graham and Dunn, it’s being held — they’ve decided! — in their plushy, corporate waterfront offices. In contrast to, well, a location such as this gritty, world-famous, underground cultural icon the boys who invented “Meet the Bloggers” chose in 2007:
Well, I guess the young, clean-cut home town favorite with the quick draw “wins” this one, huh. You know how it goes out in Washington — when it comes time to play, they play by Microsoft Rules. So, okay, drinks are on Graham & Dunn, no need to walk underground, and at least Marty and I don’t have to run up whatever the Michigan Avenue of Seattle is looking for a cash machine as we did in Chicago. You can RSVP here.
Yeah, I smell acquiescence on this “infringement,” or is it just that rainy Seattle atmosphere? It’s a brutal world out there, boys, especially for descriptive would-be trademarks in the making. You should both know about that. But I’ll grant, you may well have thought you could trust trademark law bloggers, too… Live and learn.
(Hat tip to Pamela Chestek!)