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Category Archives: Fair Use

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It Is Not “Easy Like Sunday Morning” To Use Commodore As A Trademark

Posted in Fair Use, Law Suits, Trademarks

The band’s song “Easy” does not reflect Commodores’ founder Thomas McClary’s court battle to use the trademark “COMMODORES founder Thomas McClary” for his solo career.  As I dug further into the meaning of the song, it is actually about the relief of ending a really difficult relationship.  I guess it fits that the relationship, or… 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

Trademark satire is no joke to the City of Atlanta

Posted in Fair Use, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Squirrelly Thoughts

Check out this City of Atlanta Facebook page.  The funny thing is that it’s not run by the City of Atlanta.  Although the posts are titled “City of Atlanta” and use the City’s official seal, the page consists of satirical humor composed by Ben Palmer, an Atlanta resident.  Although the first post was only a couple weeks… 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

Nihilist Arby’s: We Have The Tweets

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

I recently came across this new piece of merchandise available for sale online: Look familiar? Those familiar with the restaurant chain Arby’s likely think so. The shirt is a product of the parody Twitter account @nihilist_arbys, created by a former writer for The Daily Show. With occasional references to current events, Nihilist Arby’s darkly comedic tweets… Continue Reading

For Wrigley Field Street Vendors, It’s Win or Go Home

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Counterfeits, Fair Use, Fashion, Marketing, Trademarks

The Chicago Cubs are rolling into the playoffs, putting the finishing touches on a historically dominant regular season with over 100 wins. Cubs fans (like me) even dare to dream that the century-plus long championship drought may finally come to an end this fall, if the team can carry its impressive form into the postseason…. Continue Reading

Timber! Will the Little Trees Car Freshener Configuration Trademark be Chopped Down?

Posted in Articles, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Genericide, Infringement, Law Suits, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

We wrote about the above trademark warning ad a few years back, and the claimed trademark owner likely recognizing vulnerability as to validity: “The idea generally is, let’s show and create a record that we are educating the public about our trademark rights and hopefully deterring misuses that otherwise might find their way into the public… Continue Reading

Trans-Pacific Intellectual Property

Posted in Agreements, Copyrights, Fair Use, Idea Protection, Infringement, International, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Patents, Trademarks

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a favored talking point among our presidential hopefuls—is an international trade agreement between twelve nations. The agreement was signed earlier this year, but is not yet ratified in most member countries including the United States. Negotiations took place over seven years and resulted in thirty dense chapters of provisions—some of which are… 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

Lights, Camera…Now Take Action

Posted in Fair Use, Guest Bloggers, Idea Protection, Infringement, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Television

– Jason Sprenger – President, Game Changer Communications Imagine for a moment you’re back in the year 1963…the time of Mad Men, the beginning of Beatlemania, the year of the “I Have a Dream” speech.  Who’s the most trusted man in America?  You might be surprised that it wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr., or even the… 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 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

Mine?

Posted in Branding, Copyrights, Fair Use, Law Suits, Technology

Recent developments have brought to the forefront the ongoing debate about what rights, if any, gamers should have or own in their online personas or in the contributions that they make to games through their gameplay contributions (i.e. is the participation by the player an act of “authorship”)? On April 7, 2016, Mike Futter at Game Informer reported that Blizzard… Continue Reading

LARPing with Patent Trolls

Posted in Counterfeits, Dilution, Fair Use, False Advertising, First Amendment, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Patents, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology, Trademark Bullying

Live Action Role Playing (LARP or LARPing) usually involves Renaissance Festival worthy costumes, foam medieval weapons, and an intense dedication to not breaking character.  I can’t say I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in a LARP event, but I also can’t say I’d turn down the opportunity. A different kind of battle—the intellectual property… Continue Reading

Solid Snake on Ice

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, SoapBox

Fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise received disappointing news earlier this week when Project “Shadow Moses”–an ambitious fan reboot of the original game using Unreal Engine 4–was canceled.  A trailer showing the progress of the project prior to its termination is below: This would have represented a significant improvement from the 1998 original Metal Gear Solid. While… Continue Reading

An E-Bay User Copied and Sold Thousands of Designs for Profit, but is it Legal?

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, First Amendment, Idea Protection, Infringement, Loss of Rights

Three-dimensional printing technology continues to be a new frontier of creativity, advancement, and of course, legal issues. The laws surrounding 3D printing have always been a topic of concern, but the discussion took center stage over the last few weeks in an unprecedented way. If you’re new to the idea of 3D printing, here’s a… Continue Reading

Are Registrations for Product Configuration Trademarks for Suckers?

Posted in Fair Use, Famous Marks, Food, Idea Protection, Infringement, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks, USPTO

As a kid, I loved candy. But as an adult, who happens to be an intellectual property attorney, I still love candy. So you can bet your sweet tooth that I was feeling a sugar rush when I came across a pending application to register the claimed mark shown below: The application was filed by… Continue Reading

A Fine Mess: YouTube’s Reaction to REACT

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

In the world of YouTube, subscriber count is king. With over 14 million subscribers, the Fine Brothers seemed at the forefront of new media. But earlier this month, the Internet’s collective scorn for a trademark portfolio sent the Fine Brothers’ subscription count tumbling. If you haven’t been following Benny and Rafi Fine of the Fine Brothers (during your non-work… Continue Reading

Carlos Santana is Everywhere

Posted in Copyrights, Fair Use, Infringement, Law Suits, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Social Media, Technology

Seeing Carlos Santana this weekend while watching the Super Bowl with friends reminded me about the recently filed copyright infringement suit against BuzzFeed. You might be thinking, “that was Chris Martin of Coldplay, not Carlos Santana, who played the Half Time show.” However, I am referring to Mr. Santana’s revamping of the theme song for… Continue Reading

Nominative Fair Use, as Illustrated by Colorful Balls

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, False Advertising, Infringement, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Sight, Television, Trademarks

If you watch any amount of T.V. or happened to catch either of the AFC or NFC Championship games last weekend, you’ve probably seen one of the recent cell phone carrier ball commercials. Initially, Verizon created this commercial, wherein a series of colorful balls rolling down a ramp are used to describe Verizon’s apparently superior… Continue Reading

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

iPhone 6, Can You Say Nominative Fair Use?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Marketing, Technology, Trademarks

We cover a lot of topics related to nominative fair use of trademarks, see here, here, and here for some of those discussions. Does the example below on product packaging from J. Crew qualify for fair use of the iPhone 6 mark? The International Trademark Association would say so: “In general, the following uses are… Continue Reading