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

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

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