More intel on genericness, or a parody of trademark rights

If you don’t turn over that domain name …

Sometimes you can build up trademark rights, even spectacularly valuable ones, in a word that subsequently becomes a part of the English language.  That’s what happened to Intel, which shares its INTEL trademark with the rest of the English speaking world that uses the word “intel.”  It’s a tough break for them, but not an awful one since they can pick and choose who, when and where to sue people who use that word just about any way, regardless of whether there is any possible confusion or damage to Intel.  Or have I ever mentioned this before?

But when your trademark is built around words that start out as plain old words, the road can be even tougher.  That’s something to think about when choosing whether or not to use such a word mark as your trademark — all the more so when, like the Harvard Lampoon, owners of the LAMPOON trademark, you weaken your rights by sharing them with another outfit (something I still don’t really understand).

Marty Schwimmer explains:

Harvard Lampoon (which spawned such luminaries as John Updike, George Plimpton, Conan O’Brien and Michael Gordon), has incontestable registrations for LAMPOON, one with a first use date of 1876. However, its registrations were all obtained after registrant’s creation date of LAMPOON.COM of 1998. Also, the Harvard Lampoon shares the register with the NATIONAL LAMPOON, also LAMPOON is a dictionary word, also this seems to be the first assertion of rights since 1998, so the UDRP [claim it brought against a third party] was denied on failure to prove bad faith with some laches thrown in.

Perhaps the UDRP was brought ironically.

Perhaps [rolls eyes].

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Ron Coleman

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