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

Hours of Energy, But No Trademark Registration

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

The energy drink businesses is big, big business. From Red Bull and Monster to that strange 35 ounce purple can that you saw in a gas station once, consumers love energy drinks. Along with Red Bull and Monster, 5-Hour Energy is one of the most successful and recognizable brands. Innovation Ventures, LLC, the owner of the… Continue Reading

Oz The Saying Goes…

Posted in Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Loss of Rights, Television, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

There’s no place like home. Just be careful where and how you say it. It is common knowledge among lawyers that copyright protection does not normally extend to titles, words, or short phrases. Movies, politicians, and our family and friends constantly quote books, movies, and famous politicians, actors, and others. From a trademark perspective, we see famous quotes… Continue Reading

And the Grammy for Most Likely to Receive a DMCA Notice Goes to…

Posted in Audio, Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Social Media

Last Sunday was “Music’s Biggest Night,” at least according to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). I haven’t watched many Grammy Award shows, but the possibility of seeing Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performing together was enough for me to tune in, at least for a few minutes. I wasn’t paying particularly close… Continue Reading

Selling Ice to Eskimos

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Goodwill, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television

It’s easy to make a sports car look good. Or a vacation on a white sand beach. But what about things that the average person hates to buy? Watch the commercial below and let’s reconvene in 90 seconds:   Yes, that’s John C. Reily narrating (of Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and Gangs of New York… Continue Reading

Coffee is for Closers, Not for Brewers

Posted in Famous Marks, Food, Genericide, Infringement, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

When life gives you a cease and desist letter, make lemonade. Or, depending on your profession, maybe some beer. That’s what Jeff Britton, owner of the Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cottleville, Missouri chose to do after receiving a cease and desist letter on behalf of Starbucks. The owner penned a humorous response that… Continue Reading

The True Meaning of C [hristmas]

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Infringement, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Yes, it has finally arrived: the end of December. Whether you’re someone who views the day as bitter sweet, dreading the day when the dirty looks from your neighbors force you to finally take down your decorations in February, or whether you were ready for it all to be the over the very moment you… Continue Reading

The Champagne of Trademark Disputes

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Genericide, Goodwill, Infringement, International, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

Wine connoisseurs have been pairing food with their wines for  centuries (okay, I’m guessing here, but it is probably a long time), paying close attention to all of the subtleties of the flavor, hints of oak, acidity, and other features. With the explosion of craft beers in the United States, we can now do the… Continue Reading

I’m Concerned About The Meaning.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

In Michigan last week, the billboard below popped up off of an interstate highway near Flint: (image, and story, available here) It certainly isn’t the first time that an advertisement has left out, or at least obscured, the sponsor or the products. (See our own Duets Blog discussion of a Coca Cola ad with sparse information here). Given that… Continue Reading

Breaking Bad News for Breaking Bad Fans

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Food, Goodwill, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Television, Trademarks

When I was eight I had a perfect plan to create a multi-million dollar business: a company that sold pet turtle kits that came with miniature nunchucks, swords, and ninja costumes. Back then though it was more difficult to tap into Angel networks and, although great friends, my core group of investors unfortunately turned out to… Continue Reading

The MPAA and the Midwives, and Other Cautionary Tales

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Law Suits, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

As we all know, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has long taken an active role in the debate regarding the advantages and disadvantages of traditional midwifery and modern medical views regarding childbirth. That’s what Rosemary’s Baby was all about, right? Well, the MPAA filed an amicus brief yet again in a lawsuit between… Continue Reading

If You Want to Go Fast, You Don’t Have Time for Trademark Law.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Trademarks

If you’re not first, you’re last. Rick’s Cabaret was the first to open a restaurant with the name Ricky Bobby – but will Sony Pictures have the last laugh? Let’s get the background first. In the movie Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell played Ricky Bobby, a successful race car driver who just “wants to go fast.”… Continue Reading

Does this Pink clash with my Pink?

Posted in Dilution, Goodwill, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

Since May of 2013, a legal battle has been brewing between two fashion industry giants: Victoria’s Secret and Thomas Pink (owned by Louis Vuitton). Below are pictures of storefronts for the two companies: Thomas Pink began as a U.K. company and is known for its menswear, primarily shirts, ties, and other dress clothes. Thomas Pink… Continue Reading

One Man’s Trash Is Another Transit Authority’s Trademark

Posted in Fair Use, Infringement, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

A while back, I discussed the New York State Department of Development’s enforcement efforts to prevent others from using the I♥NY logo. It looks like the West Coast may have learned something from the East Coast, as San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District (affectionately known as BART) has been sending out cease and desist… Continue Reading

This Ain’t Your Dad’s Hamburger Helper…

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

Brace yourselves everybody, I have some bad news: Hamburger Helper is no more. But wait! Don’t jump yet, friend. Thanks to the General Mills marketing department, and fueled by a loss of market share to new competition from Kraft, Hamburger Helper has been reborn. Let me introduce to the new and improved brand: Helper. General Mills, owner of… Continue Reading

These Colors Don’t Run, They Identify Sources.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademarks

Like most holidays, the Fourth of July is inextricably linked with childhood memories, the smell of amazing food, time with family, and yes, even brands and trademarks. While logos and brand names for marshmallows and hot dogs are seared into my memory, the most powerful symbol of this particular holiday (and maybe the most recognized image, and source-identifier in our entire… Continue Reading

There’s always money in the banana-based intellectual property rights…

Posted in Advertising, Agreements, Branding, Contracts, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

In its list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the Rolling Stone ranked the 1967 album The Velvet Underground & Nico at number 13 – not bad for the band’s very first album.  The album had a simple cover, some would say iconic, cover:   And get this: the banana peel was actually a… Continue Reading

NY ♥ TM

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Idea Protection, Infringement, Marketing, SoapBox, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Last week I stopped at a local wine and beer store to pick up a bottle of wine to bring to a friend’s dinner party (but also couldn’t resist purchasing a 4-pack of Surly’s Bitter Brewer. I had never seen it before, but highly recommend it). As I walked back to my car I noticed a pile of… Continue Reading

Oreo: interactive food, interactive brands

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking

Oreo consistently receives media attention and accolades for their use of non-traditional media. They have created numerous memorable advertising moments through their twitter account. The stand out is of course their Super Bowl power outage tweet: The ad was widely regarded as one of the best of the Super Bowl, even though it cost zero… Continue Reading

Prince, the DMCA, and Bullying

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Infringement, Social Media

Minneapolis’ own hometown hero Prince Rogers Nelson, formerly and currently known simply as “Prince,” has been in the news quite often in 2013. It began with his surprise, limited ticket performances in January, which he followed up with a surprise concert to close out the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Prince has also made legal… Continue Reading