Section 2(a)

A different Slant

Does this story in the Northwest Asian Weekly about the trademark registration woes of a rock band called The Slants sound familiar? The Slants, whose members are of Asian descent, have amassed fans nationwide, taking the stage at dive bars, Asian festivals, anime conventions, and even serving on panels to discuss racial stereotypes. But behind the scenes, the band is fighting a battle with the United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO. The office has twice…

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Best of 2013: The Lanham Act’s surprising penumbras

First published on July 15, 2013. Here I thought I understood something about the Lanham Act.  But wait, there’s more!  Did you know this?: The purpose of the Lanham Act is to protect registered and valid copyrights, trademarks, and patents. That’s from Coach, Inc. v. Southwest Flea Market., 2:10-CV-02410-DKV, 2012 WL 8470191 (W.D. Tenn. Feb. 21, 2012), an important decision concerning, among other things, the circumstances under which a flea market vendor can be held contributorily... Read more

Best of 2009: They always get their man

Posted November 24, 2009. Yes, people do have some funny ideas of what kinds of things to protect with copyright, don’t they?   A few years ago, criminal enterprise Milberg Weiss (in its pre-conviction days) tried to assert copyright in its own specie — the legal papers it filed to generate kazillions in crooked class-action fees — and not so unreasonably (hmm…). Anyway, it seems that certain countries, though not as wealthy as Milberg Weiss,... Read more

Best of 2012: When brands let us down

Originally posted on February 21, 2012. This was–I thought–my kind of blog post: a guest post on Duets Blog by graphic designer Ellie Drotning: When I hear a well-known brand has redesigned its mark, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. For a graphic designer with a particular penchant for logos and branding, a new logo is like a gift I can’t wait to tear open. But when I got my first look at J. C.... Read more

Garden State woes

The TTAB denied the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s likelihood of confusion claim against a pizza restaurant that mimics the Garden State Parkway sign #trademarks — Proof of Use (@ProofofUse) May 16, 2018 I blogged about this dispute — well, more accurately, I riffed off it — here, in 2014. This appears, to one only casually familiar with the record, to be an appropriate resolution. Key holdings of the main aspect of the TTAB... Read more

Comments to EFF: Sod Off

This is an update on my earlier item about the EFF’s ACLU-like position in the Apple / PowerPage lawsuit. Apparently everyone (all five of ’em) who was motivated to comment on the EFF’s position in this matter (which I will paraphrase as “other peoples’ information wants to be free once someone violates their duty of confidentiality and blabs it”) agrees with Likelihood of Confusion. As we all know, rectitude is solely a function of who... Read more

Eiffel Tower “copyright”: I didn’t

Demain Anne Hidalgo est sur la Tour pour goûter au vertige du vide! La tour dans ses nvx atours…. — pierre eric spitz (@sprichtt) October 5, 2014 Just saying:  If you thought I fell for that spin last week that went along the lines of “it’s against the law to take a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night” — well, no, I didn’t.  (And don’t write to me at [email protected] either to debate... Read more

Censorship at INTA?

In a post from last Friday, Lara Pearson takes on what she calls “Censorship at INTA .”* It’s about the big-IP redoubt’s plan to remove the justly famous “INTA List,” the TM Topics email discussion group to behind a slick “social-networking” wall of exclusivity for INTA members only.  As Lara puts it: The TM Topics list primarily was used by practitioners to discuss legal or procedural issues, or to  seek recommendations for foreign associates or other... Read more

It’s not a trademark just because it’s yours

Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log reports on a decision in a case called Trott’s Woodproducts, Inc. v. American Cabinet Doors & More, Inc., 2007 WL 625920 (W.D. Ark.): Consumer sophistication can stave off confusion. Here’s the unusual case where consumer ignorance prevents infringement, because consumers don’t recognize the existence of a mark. Plaintiff … sued defendants for false advertising, state unfair competition, false designation of origin, and deceptive trade practices, all stemming from defendants’ alleged practice of... Read more

Swan song

Someone say something about getting all introspective and stuff?  Well, the Drug and Device Law blog’s Mark Herrmann is, as he so curmudgeonfully puts it, outta here: After 20 years at Jones Day, I’ve been made an offer that I can’t refuse: I’m resigning from Jones Day’s partnership at the end of December 31 to begin work as Vice President and Chief Counsel — Litigation at Aon Corporation, the world’s largest insurance brokerage, on January... Read more