Michael Atkins is beside himself with intellectual-property-enforcement frustration about the use of an image of the Seattle Space Needle — a tall pointy building what they have there instead of skyscrapers — on the logo of some foreign-sport team called the Sounders:
Which of course brings me to trademark law. In particular, whatâ€™s up with the Soundersâ€™ use of the Space Needle in its logo? As previously discussed, the Space Needle logo is a registered trademark owned by the Space Needle Corporation. The Space Needle Corporation owns two registered design marks (here and here). Just a few years ago, the company brought suit to enforce rights in its design marks against an onion ring maker that used an altered version of the Space Needle in a print ad (an onion ring replaced the Space Needleâ€™s observation deck). Now it appears the company has licensed use of its design to the Sounders, doesnâ€™t care about this use, or has stopped enforcing its rights.
Far be it from me to needle him over something like this, but I’m surprised Michael doesn’t sound out the possibility that The Space Needle Corporation doesn’t have any rights to license, care about or enforce in the image of its hamburger-on-stilts tower in the first place.
Buildings are not trademarks. Registering two particular renderings of your building as a trademark doesn’t bootstrap the structure’s likeness into a trademark. Neither does suing someone else and claiming it is one, unless you get a court to agree with you.
Which it shouldn’t!