Trademarks and trademark law

Two famous IP questions answered in one lawsuit

Anton Hopen reports that GM won an important verdict in a trademark case involving a toy Hummer. The jury awarded over a million and a half dollars for the infringement of GM’s trademark on the distinctive grille design of the Hummer. What are the two questions? One is whether toy manufacturers are infringing trademarks when they make toy models of trademark-protected vehicles (and presumably aircraft and the like). Now, most automobile designs are not necessarily…

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Common Law Copyright Makes it On Broadway

The online New York Law Journal (registration with a credit card for at least a free trial required) reports as follows: ALBANY: In an unprecedented expansion of common law copyright protections, the Court of Appeals [New York’s highest state court] yesterday said recording artists are shielded in perpetuity under New York standards even when their foreign copyrights have long since expired. Attorneys predicted the 7-0 ruling in Capitol Records v. Naxos of America, [Inc.], would... Read more

NSA monitoring program ruled unconstitutional

The ACLU reports: In the first federal challenge ever argued against the Bush administration’s NSA spying program, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor rules that the program to monitor [sic] the phone calls and e-mails of millions of Americans without warrants is unconstitutional. Hat tip to Declan McManus‘s email list. I think the word “monitor” is a little loaded here, but this decision is going to be a big deal. UPDATE: I wrote in... Read more

To Photoshop; perchance, to Google

p0ps blog quotes Adobe: “The Photoshop trademark must never be used as a common verb or as a noun. The Photoshop trademark should always be capitalized and should never be used in possessive form, or as a slang term.” What’re these people thinking? Chill out, Pops. It’s a matter of trademark genericization. You can’t verb a trademark proper noun… but a common noun, a part of speech, why those get verbed ever’ day. And parts... Read more

Divert me!

I’ve been writing about “diversion” of sales — otherwise known as “unauthorized distribution” or the sale of gray market goods — since forever. And I’ve been litigating it since forever, too — right through just about right now. And it’s mostly been a lonely slog, because most people who write about trademark enforcement are beholden to at least their hope of getting the call from a big-brand enforcer to file a spurious trademark infringement and... Read more

Not a Rookie — Just a Freedom Fighter

Doug, you’re right about this: Helen Thomas will, in one capacity or another, outlast Scott McLellan in his role as White House Press Secretary. But are you really telling us that she is respected as “dean” of the White House press corps? Because I find that really hard to believe. Her partisan credentials are well established, and I’m not the only one who thinks so: [S]he is no longer the Helen Thomas of yesteryear, a... Read more

Hooters Overreaching on Trade "Dress": You can look but you’d better not touch

IP News Blog at Pierce reports that the high-class joint Hooters has lost an attempt to claim trade dress rights in the colors worn by their high-class waitresses. What was this “trade dress”? According to Randall Zidones, who posted the item, “The girls at [competitor] Winghouse wore red shorts and white tank tops, similar to the orange shorts and white tank tops of the Hooters Girls.” Orange shorts and white tank tops, “trade dress”? When... Read more

That’s entertainment

Wii or whoops?  Another endorsement of the concept of having a lot of books in the house, and maybe not so many electronic forms of entertainment.  Just saying. Originally posted 2013-10-30 11:58:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter Read more

Best of 2010: An opinion to Di for

First posted on May 5, 2010. I do a lot of bellyaching around here about how there are never any consequences for filing frivolous trademark and copyright lawsuits. What’s the worst thing that can happen to a well-heeled plaintiff that wants to use the expense of defending, even meritoriously, against a “federal case” as a way to effectuate a “business message” (namely, you’re out of business, because we say so)? Usually, nothing. Not just usually.... Read more

Democrats seek to institute government monitoring of media

Already giddy with the power they expect to be delivered to them today, Democrats are promising to reinstate government control of public communication to insure what political appointees determine is “fairness” and balance: Asked if he is a supporter of telling radio stations what content they should have, [Sen. Charles] Schumer used the fair and balanced line, claiming that critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent. “The very same people who don’t want the... Read more

Bag It

Remember Vuitton v. Dooney? It’s over. Reports the Shiny Style blog: A judge ruled in favor of Dooney & Bourke in the trademark dispute involving their “It Bag” monogram . . . and the Louis Vuitton Monograme Multicolore collection. The judge implied it was less a case of infringement as the fact that Vuitton didn’t like Dooney & Bourke cashing in on a trend LV started. Also covered in New York mag and probably all... Read more

Likelihood of baloney

IP Law Chat chats about how “paranormalist” charlatan Uri Geller got all bent out of shape over Brian Sapient, a member of the “Rational Response Squad,” posting a video debunking Geller’s nonsense on YouTube. Using the last refuge of scoundrels — a DMCA takedown notice (the video incorporated a few seconds of Geller’s own media) — Geller had the video removed. The EFF has now responded on Sapient’s behalf to the effect that Geller should... Read more

Posner won’t butter up Dairy Maiden: In trademark dilution, fame isn’t everything

There is a puzzling aspect to much of what emits from U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner, he of the “strange new respect” earned on certain issues not (usually) germane to this blog.  But his expression of puzzlement in Hugunin v. Land O’ Lakes, Inc. (full opinion here), while impossibly coy, has done a great service in drawing the limits on just how far fame will and won’t get “enforcement” efforts for a trademark under federal trademark dilution statute.  This... Read more

Zombies in Las Vegas?

Ryan Gile reports on an odd ruling that just could — however unlikely — result in some degree of reanimation of Righthaven, of all things: Back in 2009 (when I had much more time to blog on a more regular basis), I wrote about the three separate trademark infringement lawsuits filed by Stephens Media LLC (“Stephens Media”), the owner of the Las Vegas newspaper The Las Vegas Review Journal [and the engine behind Righthaven], against three separate companies over... Read more