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

Microsoft’s New Battle: Toads

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Trademarks, USPTO

It isn’t often that Forbes and Arcade Sushi are reporting on the same story. But some news is so big, so ground breaking, and so important that all media outlets cannot, in good moral consciousness, fail to comply with their duty to inform the public. Obviously, I’m talking about Microsoft’s potential reboot of the Battletoads… Continue Reading

Photoshopping: One Lingerie Company is Bucking the Trend while Making a Buck

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fashion, Goodwill, Marketing

It’s no secret that the advertising industry relies heavily on physical appearance to sell products, especially for clothing, accessories, and even cheeseburgers. About a year ago, Brent (Lorentz, of the fellow Duets Blogger fame) discussed the prevalence of unrealistic expectations of beauty in advertising. As Brent mentioned, while ethical standards are applied to all sorts of industries,… Continue Reading

Aggie-ravating Trademark Issues with College Mascots

Posted in Infringement

Colleges serve an important role in American society, providing education, experience and leadership to each new generation. Also, sports. And did I mention SPORTS? Regardless of the reason (cable?), college sports have become a huge business over the last 25 years, with NCAA schools having a reported annual value of $8 billion (without including revenue… Continue Reading

Converse: Stomping Out Counterfeits through Int’l Trade Commission Proceedings

Posted in Articles, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Fashion, Infringement, Law Suits, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Earlier this week, Converse launched an all-out offensive to combat what it considers counterfeit and knock-off versions of its Chuck Taylor All-Star line of sneakers. Reports peg the number as at least 22 separate lawsuits against more than 30 companies, both in district court and at the International Trade Commission (the “ITC”). The defendants read… Continue Reading

Star Wars: Redefining Trademark and Copyright Law Since A Long Time Ago

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Copyrights, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Social Media, Sound, Television, Trademarks, USPTO

The Star Wars series is truly an exceptional franchise, having broken box office records, creating legions of fans, and bringing the idea of collateral merchandise licensing to an unprecedented level. Also, how many other films are top hits at the box office in three different decades, even when all you’ve done is add a few… Continue Reading

iOS 8: Bigger, faster, but still not a valid trademark (yet)

Posted in Fair Use, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Technology, Trademarks, USPTO

Although the iPhone 6 was the headliner, Apple’s release of iOS 8 was a respectable supporting act. Unfortunately though, the negative headlines keep coming in as poor performance reviews have kept more than half of Apple users from downloading the new operating system (your dear author included among them). Apple received some additional bad news… Continue Reading

You Can McDo It, But You Might Get McSued.

Posted in Famous Marks, Infringement, Trademarks, TTAB

Shares in McDonald’s jumped surprisingly high earlier this week, causing some to wonder whether any notable investors might be involved, possibly with inside information. Or maybe it was somebody hoping to get an inside track on McDonald’s Monopoly game, which began yesterday (do the stock certificates come with as many peel-off game pieces as a… Continue Reading

Honey Badger Don’t Care, but the Owner of the Trademark Rights Do Care.

Posted in Articles, Branding, Food, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Trademarks, USPTO

We truly live in an amazing time, where nearly any person with access to a computer can obtain a nearly infinite amount of knowledge, create and distribute ideas and works of art to the entire world. Also, there are lots of cat videos and angry rants. YouTube is perhaps the most well-known and effective means… Continue Reading

Put it on Ice: ALSA Abandons ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE Trademark Applications

Posted in Branding, Fair Use, First Amendment, Goodwill, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, USPTO

(Bill Gates putting his own spin on the ice bucket challenge) So there is a thing called the ice bucket challenge. In case you haven’t heard of it, you can read about it here (while you’re at it, you may want to read up on the internet, color television, and greek yogurt). In fact, Matt… Continue Reading

Blue 42. Set. Trademark! I mean, Hike!

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Sound, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Touch, Trademarks, USPTO

Can you feel it? All around the country, fields are being groomed, stenciled, and painted. Tonight, the college football season begins with Georgia State taking on Abilene Christian in what could be a preview of one of hundreds of games that most of us don’t really care about. But like so many fans around the country, I’ll… Continue Reading

Role Reversal: David Bullying Goliath?

Posted in Branding, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Infringement, Marketing, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks, TTAB

When claims of trademark infringement make the news, it is often because a billion dollar corporation is suing old man Donaldson’s tavern for trademark infringement (Although, McDonaldson’s might have been a bad choice…).  You’ve got your Ikeas, your Googles, Chick-fil-As, and your NFLs of course (not the National Forensics League, they’re cool).  David can fight back and win, but David… Continue Reading

Colors, Words, and Colours: Pink with Envy

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

It has been nearly a year since we posed the age-old question: Does this Pink Clash with My Pink? Okay, so it’s not that old of a question. In fact, most of you (readers) may not have ever considered the inquiry. I guess I should clarify, by “clash with” I mean “infringe.” By “Pink” I… Continue Reading

A Window into the Future for Apple’s Trade Dress?

Posted in Branding, Idea Protection, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Trademarks, USPTO

A few weeks back, Steve discussed Apple’s recent applications to register a trio of non-verbal trademarks, shown below: (Each image links to the corresponding application on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office – USPTO). Spoiler alert: This post contains the USPTO’s ultimate decision regarding the registrability of the design and layout of various… Continue Reading

This Little Piggy Went to the Trademark Office…

Posted in Articles, Fair Use, Goodwill, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sound, Trademarks, USPTO

When was the last time you thought about pigs? What do you think when you hear the word “pigs?” Or an OINK OINK noise? Or what about the angelic and oh-so-American, “SOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEYY!”? Well, the University of Arkansas contends that you’re probably thinking about the Arkansas Razorback sport teams. And they convinced the U.S. Patent and Trademark… Continue Reading

Believe what you want, but who will win?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Trademarks, USPTO

In case you were unaware, the (Men’s) World Cup happened over the last two months and is now over (the Women’s World Cup is next year, in Canada). I Believe that if you followed Team USA at all, you probably heard the infectious chant of I —— I BELIEVE ——- I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!… Continue Reading

Update: Ikea Voids the Warranty on its Demand Letter

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

A few weeks back, we discussed IKEA’s claim of trademark infringement against the popular website, IKEAhackers.net, and the resulting online backlash. In what’s become an increasingly common result, IKEA has reportedly backed off from its demand letter: We want to clarify that we deeply regret the situation at hand with  IKEAhackers. It has of course… Continue Reading

IKEA översittare: Bully or Baloney?

Posted in Branding, Dilution, Domain Names, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Goodwill, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

I once spent 20 minutes trying to figure out whether I was installing a metal insert for an NYMÖ lamp upside down, or rightside up. I’m still not sure I ever installed it correctly, but it’s still working. So there. But a new IKEA översittare is getting a lot of attention on the internet, and… Continue Reading

Legal Marijuana: New Branding Opportunities, Same Old Infringement

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

Whether driven by new laws or technology, companies and individuals always push the limits of the law during the industry’s formative years. Obvious examples like Napster come to mind, as well as the more dated example of the VCR. Out in Washington and Colorado, the new booming business of legal marijuana is no different. According… Continue Reading

Bar Fights: Better to Be Kind or to Have Mojo?

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Marketing, Product Configurations, Product Packaging, Trademarks

I know what you’re thinking. It’s about time that we Duets Bloggers shared our war stories on our past lives in seedy bars, taking on any unfortunate soul who might say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just generally make us mad. After all, what else would you expect from a bunch of… Continue Reading

The World Is Not Enough, We Want the Whole Genre

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Idea Protection, Infringement, Law Suits, Television

The James Bond franchise is one of the most well-known and successful movie franchises in history. There are few characters who reappear in 23 full length movies, let alone have the 23rd movie reach the top of the box office charts. The James Bond franchise, however, has obtained a unique status among average viewers and… Continue Reading