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

USPTO Proposes Cheaper, Faster Cancellation Option

Posted in TTAB, USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office register contains a lot of dead weight. In order to obtain a trademark registration and maintain the registration, the owner must use the mark in U.S. interstate commerce (as always, with a few limited exceptions). What constitutes dead weight? Usually marks that are currently registered, but not actually used… Continue Reading

While the Slants are in the Spotlight, Chief Wahoo is on Deck

Posted in First Amendment, USPTO

Throughout the past decade, attorneys, judges, plaintiffs, and defendants have invested thousands of hours in the fight over offensive trademarks. Most of the public is aware of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, who continue to be embroiled in litigation that is currently pending with the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. But… Continue Reading

Help! Someone Copied My Stuff!

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement

At some point in this digital age, almost every individual or business in the creative space will discover that somebody has copied them. You may see it yourself, or you may get the stomach-dropping “Doesn’t this look an awful lot like…..” e-mail from a friend. It might be that potential client who said your design… Continue Reading

Hasbro thinks the Smell of Play-Doh Is a Trademark, will the USPTO Agree?

Posted in Fair Use, Non-Traditional Trademarks, USPTO

As we have discussed previously, trademark protection isn’t an exclusive club for words and pictures. Shapes, sounds, and even the tactile feel of a product can all qualify for trademark protection. And as a recent application from Hasbro shows, even the smell of a trademark might qualify for trademark protection. The mark set forth in… Continue Reading

The Big Ten and the NCAA Tip Off for MARCH Marks

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

You don’t have to be a sports fan to be aware of MARCH MADNESS, the name associated with the annual tournament to determine the college basketball national champion. The tournament is organized by the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The name MARCH MADNESS is derived from the fact that the tournament occurs almost exclusively in March…. Continue Reading

Second Circuit Agrees: Louis Vuitton Can’t Take a Joke

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

If you’re still looking for holiday gift for that special someone, the Second Circuit has your back. Fresh off the docket, the Second Circuit gave its blessing to My Other Bag’s line of parody canvas tote bags. For additional background, you can read our discussion of the District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the… Continue Reading

Trademark Scam Results in More than $600,000 in Refunds in New Zealand

Posted in USPTO

The records of applications and registrations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are publicly available, allowing individuals and companies to evaluate the registered trademark rights of third-parties. Unfortunately, these same records are also accessible by individuals for more sinister purposes, including sending “invoices” to applicants that appear to be official requests for required payments…. Continue Reading

A Handy List of Star Wars References that Might Get You Sued

Posted in Almost Advice, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Infringement, Trademarks

With its purchase of Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchise, Disney did not wait long to begin exploiting the works. Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released on Dec. 18, 2015 and grossed more than $2 billion at the box office. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s a lot of money. More is… Continue Reading

Austin’s SXSW Festival Wins Trademark “Fight” with the Australian Labor Party

Posted in Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Goodwill, Infringement, International

Austin, Texas is well-known for its food, music scene, and of course its University of Texas Longhorns. The exclamation point on Austin’s notoriety though is the annual South by Southwest (a.k.a. SXSW) festival. Since its first year in 1987, the festival has grown into one of the largest music festivals in the world and, in… Continue Reading

The RedBox Mark Has Gone to Waste and 3 Quick Lessons to Learn

Posted in Dilution, Famous Marks, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

The RedBox brand continues to dominate the movie rental market. For the uninitiated, RedBox is a brand of movie and video game rental vending machines placed in convenient locations like grocery stores, gas stations, and fast food lobbies, like the one below: However RedBox’s commercial success hasn’t stopped the brand from going to waste –… Continue Reading

Is the US Olympic Committee’s #TwitterBan Fair or Foul?

Posted in Fair Use, First Amendment, Trademark Bullying

The 2016 Summer Olympics will officially* begin in eight days. Yet the U.S. Olympic Committee’s (USOC) efforts to enforce the Olympic trademarks are truly an eternal battle. While the USOC has a reputation for aggressively enforcing its trademark rights, the USOC seems to have set a new personal record for aggressive tactics, attempting to enforce… Continue Reading

USPTO Keeps the Door Locked for Marijuana-related Services

Posted in Branding, First Amendment, Food, Trademarks

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 25 states, including four states that have also legalized recreational use (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington). On Nov. 8, California voters will have a chance to make their state the next to legalize recreational use. As a dollar amount, Forbes estimated that Colorado’s marijuana industry was worth $1 billion…. Continue Reading

Second Circuit Weighs in on Nominative Fair Use

Posted in Fair Use

The federal courts of appeals have split as to how to apply the doctrine of nominative fair use in trademark infringement cases. Last week, the Second Circuit endorsed the nominative fair use factors used by the Ninth and Third Circuits. At the same time, however, the court rejected the manner in which the Ninth and… Continue Reading

Trademark Litigation Keeps Getting Cheaper (If You Win)

Posted in First Amendment, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

Slowly but surely, the extension of the Supreme Court’s 2014 Octane Fitness v. LLC v. Icon Health and Fitness, Inc. decision to trademark claims is gaining traction among federal appellate courts. The Octane Fitness decision addressed the standard for determining whether a case is “exceptional” under the Patent Act and therefore eligible for an award… Continue Reading

Trademark Lessons for New Businesses from a Lawsuit Against a Colorado Juice Bar

Posted in Articles, Dilution, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It is a big, exciting, and dangerous risk to start a new business. There were approximately 400,000 in 2014 (continuing a recent downward trend, according to Gallup). Most entrepreneurs know that the odds are stacked against them, as about 50% of new companies fail during their first five years (dig deeper into the numbers here.)…. Continue Reading

Hope Springs Eternal – Even for Baseball Trademark Disputes

Posted in Branding, Infringement, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

Across the United States this week, fans rejoiced as baseball returned. Teams took to the diamond and played the first games to count since last year’s World Series. Players, coaches, and fans all turned the page on last season, starting with a clean slate and an undefeated record. But while the players battled on baseball… Continue Reading