DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Tim Sitzmann

View my professional biography

I have always considered myself to be a creative person. Full disclosure: I'm not claiming that I've created anything good, merely that I have created things that exist. Over the years I have made skateboarding movies, played bass and guitar in bands, acted in plays, written and performed sketch comedy, and even acted in an independent (i.e. very low-budget) zombie movie. Unfortunately none of these ever blossomed into a career. I guess it was the classic case of being ahead of your time.

Thankfully these hobbies put me on a path to my current career as an intellectual property attorney. In fact, my first legal venture was obtaining copyrights for my band's debut (and only) album. I had considered law school as an option but I hadn't committed by the time I finished my undergraduate studies. To buy time I signed up for a student work visa and moved to London. Thanks to destiny, dumb luck, or both, I found a position in a law firm specializing in trademark law and brand management. It was my first exposure to the practice of law, and I quickly discovered that I had found my future career.

When I'm not in the office, I spend my time playing my guitar, obsessing over baseball (go Twins!), or talking up a band, movie, or television show that has recently impressed me.

Posts by Tim Sitzmann

Does Louis Vuitton’s Loss to a Parody Defense Justify an Award of Attorney Fees?

Posted in Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Earlier this month the Southern District of New York granted the defendant’s Motion for Summary in Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. My Other Bag , Inc. The fashion giant had brought suit against a California company over its sales of a canvas tote bag that included an image that “evoked” Louis Vuitton’s classic handbag design…. Continue Reading

Louis Vuitton’s Other Lawsuit Was a Winner, but Loses to a Parody Defense – Again.

Posted in Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement

Louis Vuitton is no stranger to trademark disputes. As a a manufacturer of handbags, wallets, and other luxury goods, the company has its hands full just addressing counterfeit products. However, like any other company, there is concern not just with “fakes,” but other products and services that may otherwise infringe or dilute Louis Vuitton’s trademark… Continue Reading

Did the Federal Circuit Just Save the Redskins’ trademark registrations?

Posted in First Amendment, Trademarks, USPTO

Yesterday the Federal Circuit issued its decision in In re Tam, an appeal filed by a musician whose application to register the mark THE SLANTS had been refused registration on the ground that it was disparaging to Asian Americans. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) relied on the same provision to cancel the registrations… Continue Reading

Samsung Seeks an Edge in Smart Phone Wars through Federal Registration

Posted in Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

For years, Samsung and Apple have battled over intellectual property rights associated with each party’s smart phones. Apple sued Samsung in 2011 and the jury found that Samsung had infringed Apple’s trade dress, design patents, and utility patents. On May 15, 2015, the Federal Circuit upheld the findings regarding infringement of design and utility patents,… Continue Reading

Forget the 6s, is the iPhone 3d coming soon?

Posted in Branding, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

When the iPhone 6s was announced, the 3D touch was a heavily touted feature.  The touch screen can now sense how hard you’re pushing. Functionally, it’s a great improvement that gives users new ways to interact with programs. But a new trademark application filed by Apple on August 18, 2015 suggests that this may not… Continue Reading

Hawking a New Mascot

Posted in Branding, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

The big mascot news over the past year has been in the NFL, as Washington fights to maintain its registrations for the REDSKINS mark. As that dispute continues, the University of North Dakota tried to put to rest its longstanding issues regarding its previous use of the name “The Fighting Sioux.” In 2012, UND dropped… Continue Reading

It’s Not Delivery, It’s Infringement.

Posted in Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Social Media, Trademarks

We’re not talking pizza, we’re talking burgers. Not just any burgers, either, we’re talking In-N-Out burgers. As any California transplant will tell you, no other burger from any other restaurant comes close. In-N-Out has more than just burgers; it also has French fries, shakes, and drinks. They also have a drive-thru if you don’t want… Continue Reading

Yosemite: The Park, the Name, and the Lawsuit

Posted in Contracts, Fair Use, Goodwill, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

Tunnel View – Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 As the saying goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law. That other tenth can be pretty complicated, depending on what you’re “possessing.”   When you’re arguing with an older brother over who “possesses” the remote control, it’s an open and shut case. But what about “possession”… Continue Reading

Lego Adds a “Brick” to its Enforcement Strategy

Posted in Fair Use, Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademark Bullying, TTAB

The Danish Lego Group is no stranger to trademark disputes. Understandably, Lego enforces its rights in the LEGO mark against third-parties who use LEGO without their permission. Lego also claims trade dress rights in product shape and configuration of its blocks and enforces those rights against other building block manufacturers. Some competitors claim that these… Continue Reading

Beer for Breakfast: Lessons in Co-Branding from General Mills

Posted in Branding

Yesterday General Mills announced that it had partnered with Fulton Brewery to create HefeWheaties: a limited edition brew. The beer is a Hefeweizen, which is traditionally a wheat-based beer, making it a perfect canvas for the Wheaties brand. Normally when these situations arise, it is because one party is complaining (For example, Lucasfilms’ objection to… Continue Reading

Octane Fitness Clarified the Standard for Attorney’s Fee Award, but Has Really Anything Changed?

Posted in Articles, Infringement, Trademarks

It’s no secret, lawsuits can be expensive. That’s why parties frequently consider the availability of recovering attorney’s fees when deciding whether to pursue (or defend) a lawsuit. While attorney’s fees have been available in trademark infringement lawsuits for many years, the standard for granting awards of such fees has shifted in light of recent Supreme… Continue Reading

Trademarks on the Internet: Are Consumers Really this Clueless?

Posted in Articles, Fair Use, Infringement, Keyword Ads, Law Suits, Trademarks

Are you unaware of the difference between search engine searches and the search results? Do you believe that a search engine can read your mind and return exactly (and only) the results you expect to receive? Is this your first time using the internet? Good news! If you answered yes to these questions, the Ninth… Continue Reading

Counterclaims for Cancellation Are Like Yoga Pants for Your Infringement Defense

Posted in Advertising, Fair Use, Fashion, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Trademarks, USPTO

Here’s one piece of advice you’ll hear from just about any trademark attorney: apply to federally register your marks as soon as financially possible. It is a very important step to take in order to protect your brand. A federal registration provides nationwide rights over any third-party that begins use of a confusingly similar mark… Continue Reading

Pepsi’s Next Generation: The Last Generation

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Goodwill, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks, TTAB

Back in the 1960s, Pepsi burst onto the scene by announcing to the youth of decade that they were the Pepsi Generation (they didn’t have a choice). Then, in the 1980s, Pepsi became “The Choice of a New Generation.” And finally, in the late 1990s, Pepsi hitched their trailer to the surely-to-never-go-out-of-style Spice Girls to… Continue Reading

Meet Batman’s New (Trademark) Nemesis: Rihanna

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB

After making (and remaking (and re-remaking)) movies, sequels, and prequels for nearly every comic book character in its library, it appears that DC Comics has finally found a new foe for its Batman franchise: music and fashion superstar Rihanna. The parties are squaring off at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board over Rihanna’s application to… Continue Reading

The Juice Runs Out for Yankee Parody Trademarks

Posted in Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Trademarks, TTAB

A good general business practice is to apply to register trademarks early. You’ll find out if there is an issue. You’ll have time to change rather than having to take everything off the shelf under the threat of a lawsuit. Yet a recent decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in New York Yankees Partnership… Continue Reading

Remember the Alamo® but Don’t Forget the License.

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks

With hard pressed economic times, state and local governments have turned to new sources of revenue: intellectual property licensing. The City of New York has been in the game for decades, licensing use of its the I ♥ NY symbol. San Francisco enforces its rights in the image of its BART transit pass. And Portland is… Continue Reading

First dinosaurs, then wooly mammoths. Are trademark attorneys next to go extinct?

Posted in Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Look-For Ads, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

A world without trademark attorneys… frightening, isn’t it? (maybe more for me than for someone who isn’t a trademark attorney). It seems unlikely, but we may be inching closer to this apocalyptic scenario. In Australia, a group of researchers, legal academics, and other organizations are collaborating on the creation of a computer program that they… Continue Reading