Who comes to mind when I list the following character traits: lives in a dystopian metropolis, has a deceased parent, fights criminals, rides a motorcycle, has seemingly-superhero strength, is fearless, has dark hair, and–oh, by the way–his name is “Wayne.” More than that, you learn all these facts about Wayne by watching a trailer for a series about Wayne on YouTube, which informs you throughout that Wayne is a character “from the guys who wrote Deadpool,” a fictional superhero. Take a look for yourself:

It should probably come as no surprise that many people watching the trailer–myself included–thought this Wayne might be “Bruce Wayne,” the well-known secret identity of Batman. The comments to the official trailer demonstrate as much. Consider, for example, the “top comment” for the trailer:

The Bruce Wayne most consumers know is the wealthy orphan owner of Wayne Enterprises by day, crime-fighting superhero by night. YouTube’s Wayne shares many of the same traits (except, perhaps, the wealth), and one could certainly believe that the Wayne series might be an origin story for one of the most popular superheros of all time. Of course, by the end of the trailer, you get the impression that the Wayne you’re watching probably isn’t (though there’s no disclaimer):

In total there are over 7,200 comments for the trailer at the time of writing this post. Since the official trailer, YouTube has released additional teaser trailers for the series, each making it clearer that Wayne probably isn’t Batman. Yet, viewers still aren’t quite sure:

What I find interesting about these comments is that they are a readily-available (though perhaps unreliable) data set for proving, or disproving, the existence of customer confusion. Assume that DC Comics, the owner of the Batman mark and Bruce Wayne character (which does not appear to have been registered, but to which DC Comics could have common law rights and copyright protection) could sue YouTube for infringement or dilution. Arguably, the comments on the Wayne trailers show that consumers are drawing a connection between DC Comics and the Wayne series given the name, mood of the series, and common character traits with Batman. In this, YouTube may be free riding on Batman’s popularity. Depending on just how many comments reference Batman, the comments themselves could serve as strong quantitative data of confusion–akin to the kind of survey data usually used to prove that element of a trademark claim.

On the other hand, many of the comments for the series do not reference Batman or Bruce Wayne. Do non-references indicate a lack of confusion, or perhaps a confusion that is dispelled quickly after watching the trailers? This relates to the doctrine of “initial interest confusion,” which is temporary confusion dispelled before a sale or some other commercial harm, but still may be actionable because the party creating the confusion free rides on another’s mark to gain attention. Since widespread access to the Internet, initial interest confusion cases have increased tenfold, but courts disagree about the vitality of the rule. Regardless, that confusion appears to persist in this situation–as demonstrated by the comments for each new trailer–shows that the confusion here may be of the continuing and uncured variety on which many trademark claims are based.

Wayne fully releases on YouTube in January 2019. There do not appear to be any lawsuits pending at the moment. And there does not appear to be a “Wayne” trademark registration for the series. But if YouTube (or the series’ creators) file for one, DC Comics could oppose the registration–and has done so for similar marks in the past. We’ll keep you updated with any new developments! In the meantime, let us know what you think in a comment below.

The battle for attorneys’ fees after an intense trademark dispute often leaves many prevailing parties empty handed. This is because the Lanham Act only provides for attorneys’ fees in “exceptional cases.” Congress’s (and courts’) reluctance to award attorneys’ fees stems from the “American Rule,” which provides that each party to a lawsuit is responsible for paying its own fees–unless a statute provides otherwise. But the Lanham Act erects a high bar to obtaining fees by requiring that the case be “exceptional.”

On the one hand, trademark owners should not have to fully shoulder the burden of what often turns into expensive litigation just to enforce their rights. Indeed, the estimated cost of protecting one’s rights can dramatically affect the calculus of whether to sue for infringement in the first place. But on the other hand, trademark violations are sometimes debatable and unclear. In such circumstances, the American Rule provides some protection to litigants who would otherwise be discouraged from seeking redress due to the risk that they might have to pay the defendant’s fees in the end if they lose. Thus, the Lanham Act strikes a balance, providing for reimbursement in cases of brazen and clear infringement–or brazen and clear abuse of the litigation process–while retaining the benefits the American Rule otherwise provides.

The Lanham Act’s fee provision has come up recently in two high-profile trademark cases: one involving Comic Con (reported on previously here and here), the other meme-famous Grumpy Cat (also reported on previously here). But the result was legally different in both cases, with Comic-con obtaining millions in fees under the Lanham Act, while Grumpy Cat obtained nothing under the Act, but recovered nevertheless pursuant to a contract between her and the infringer. What explains the different results?

Comic-con: The Comic Con (short for “comic book convention”) dispute began when the San Diego Comic Con sued the Salt Lake Comic Con for infringing on San Diego’s “Comic-Con” trademarks. The San Diego convention was one of the first comics-fan conventions.  And it is the largest convention of its kind, drawing more than 130,000 attendees each year. Salt Lake’s convention began in 2013, but it has quickly grown to over 120,000 attendees. Thus, it is probably no surprise that San Diego took exception to Salt Lake’s competing event and use of the same “Comic Con” name–though, as my colleague Jessica Alm pointed out, there are many other conventions across the United States using the same name.

San Diego Comic Con sued Salt Lake Comic Con for infringement. But despite the seemingly-debatable nature of the dispute (because the name could be generic, and it would be difficult to prove consume confusion), less than a year ago a jury determined that Salt Lake was liable for infringement in the amount of $20,000. Thereafter, San Diego moved for fees in the amount of $5 million–a little disproportionate, one would think (but perhaps not in view of San Diego’s requested $12 million in damages).

The district court judge granted $3.9 million. The reasons? Salt Lake repeatedly disregarded court rules, violated confidentiality rules, squandered judicial resources by relitigating issues, based arguments on irrelevant law, and attempted to bias the jury during the trial. The judge felt that the case stood out from others due to the “unreasonable manner it was litigated.” Expect an appeal on the $20,000:$3.9 million ratio.

Grumpy Cat: The Grumpy Cat dispute began when Grenade Beverage LLC, which had licensed Grumpy Cat’s trademarks (names and likenesses) to be used in trade dress and advertising for a new line of iced coffee products called “Grumppuccinos,” also used the marks in connection with a new coffee bean product without Grumpy Cat’s permission. Like the Comic Con litigation, the parties also litigated this case for three years. In addition, a jury awarded Grumpy Cat over $700,000–much more than San Diego Comic Con. But only $1 of that was for breach of the licensing agreement.

But unlike the Comic Con litigation, a federal judge recently denied Grumpy Cat’s request for approximately $320,000 in fees under the Lanham and Copyright Acts. The judge did, however, granted Grumpy Cat fees under the licensing agreement with Grenade Beverage–though, the judge said that there needs to be additional briefing on how much in fees can be awarded under the contract. Central to the judge’s decision on the Lanham Act fees issue was the fact that Grenade Beverage had not acted frivolously or in bad faith when they adopted an interpretation of the licensing agreement that entitled them to use Grumpy Cat’s marks in a line of Grumpy-Cat- branded “coffee products,” rather than just iced coffee. This reasonable difference of opinion–and, presumably, reasonable litigation behavior throughout the case–did not make out “exceptional” circumstances justifying fees under the Lanham Act.

In general, the Comic Con and Grumpy Cat cases provide two high-level teachings when it comes to fees. First, it is important to choose professional counsel, make reasonable litigation decisions, and take good faith positions throughout the course of a case. Otherwise, that conduct in and of itself may make the case “exceptional,” putting you on the hook. Second, attorneys’ fees provisions in a licensing agreement can serve as a helpful back-up if the Lanham Act fees request fails. But in providing for such fees, one should consider whether it is truly advantageous in the circumstances to remove the American Rule’s protections. That requires some thought…I need a Grumppuccino.

P.S. In April, I wrote about the USPTO’s attempt to obtain attorneys’ fees when it prevails in district court patent litigation. The Federal Circuit rejected this attempt, stating “the American Rule prohibits courts from shifting attorneys’ fees from one party to another absent a ‘specific and explicit’ directive from Congress. The phrase ‘[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings’ [in 35 U.S.C. § 145] falls short of this stringent standard.”

About a week ago, we reported on an interesting case out of the Southern District of Texas involving two competing convenience stores with cartoon animal mascots: Buc-ee’s (a beaver) and Choke Canyon (an alligator).

As someone who has personally visited Buc-ee’s stores, I can tell you that they are quite the destination. Buc-ee’s tend to be absolutely massive, with checkout lanes (everything’s bigger in Texas). People even buy T-shirts with Buc-ee’s logos on the front, with various Texan sayings on the back. I personally own three of them. So it’s kind of an understatement to call Buc-ee’s a “convenience store,” by Minnesota standards. And one can hardly complete a description of Buc-ee’s without noting that it is considered to have the “best bathrooms in Texas.”

Credit: Houston Chronicle

Choke Canyon? Yeah, its locations are pretty big too, but the mascot is far less cuddly. Though, it has a nice saying above the exit that probably wouldn’t work at Buc-ee’s: “See ya later, alligator.”

Credit: Yelp

Buc-ee’s sued Choke Canyon for a variety of claims, including: trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment. We cover these topics frequently on DuetsBlog (check out the topics column).

I must admit that when I first read about the suit, I could hardly believe it. I agree with my colleague that “the best I see from this case is that Choke Canyon may make consumers think of Buc-ee’s stores and beaver, but consumers don’t seem likely to assume that that there is a connection between the two.” And I also think that ” if it weren’t May, I’d assume this was an April Fools Day joke.”

But it’s no joke, and after a four-day jury trial and six hours of deliberation, Buc-ee’s won on all fronts. Specifically, the jury answered six questions (downloadable here):

  1. On Buc-ee’s claims for trademark infringement of its Buc-ee’s Logo, do you find for Buc-ee’s or Choke Canyon?
    • Jury answer: Buc-ee’s
    • Interestingly, the jury sent one note to the District Judge during deliberations, asking “Does the logo to be considered by the jury in rendering an infringement judgment include a version without words?” To which the Judge responded, “Yes.”
  2. Do you find that Buc-ee’s Logo was famous throughout Texas before Choke Canyon’s use of the Choke Canyon Logo?
    • Jury answer: Yes
  3. Because the jury answered “yes” to question 2, they skipped question 3 (which pertained to specific geographic areas in Texas).
  4. On Buc-ee’s claim for dilution by blurring of its Buc-ee’s Logo, do you find for Buc-ee’s or Choke Canyon?
    • Jury answer: Buc-ee’s
  5. On Buc-ee’s claim for unfair competition, do you find for Buc-ee’s or Choke Canyon?
    • Jury answer: Buc-ee’s
  6. On Buc-ee’s claim for unjust enrichment, do you find for Buc-ee’s or Choke Canyon?
    • Jury Answer: Buc-ee’s

I am surprised by the generality of the questions presented to the jury, and it’s interesting that the jury was not asked about damages–perhaps the issue was bifurcated and will be tried to a different jury.

Question 1, and the jury note, suggests to me that the jury was allowed to focus purely on the similarities between the cartoon animals in the above logos, disregarding Choke Canyon logo’s ribbon stating “Choke Canyon Travel Centers.” But even then, the only obvious similarities are the orientation of the mascots, the yellow background, the wearing of a hat, and their smiles and red tongues. It is hard to believe those basic, nominal characteristics are enough to show consumer confusion and infringement. Maybe Choke Canyon has a good chance on appeal or at judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

And I cannot help but wonder, in view of Question 2, whether the fact that Buc-ee’s mark was famous throughout Texas prior to Choke Canyon’s use of its alligator mark played the most important role in the jury’s verdict. Perhaps the jury felt that Choke Canyon intended to ride on Buc-ee’s mark. Indeed, at closing argument, Buc-ee’s counsel reminded the jurors that a survey showed more than 80% of Texans recognize the Buc-ee’s logo. But I tend to agree with Choke Canyon’s closing argument that the lawsuit seems directed at stifling competition, rather than truly protecting consumers–pointing to Buc-ee’s own prior statement that it only noticed the potential for consumer confusion when Choke Canyon began buying property in towns where Buc-ee’s operates. I find it hard to believe that a reasonable consumer would seriously confuse the two mascots and think they were associated. But apparently two actual-consumer witnesses testified in Buc-ee’s favor on this point. Texas sure is a strange place sometimes.

In recent USPTO news, Trader Joe’s, the supermarket chain known for its eclectic and unique foodstuffs, recently filed an opposition to registration of the mark “Trader Schmo,” which is described as designating a wide variety of Kosher foods. Understandably, Trader Joe’s took issue with the mark, and particularly its use in the food category. The company instituted an opposition (which I cannot help but note is #999,999), arguing that “Trader Schmo” will confuse consumers because consumers will naturally switch “Joe’s” with “Schmo,” given the popular phrase “Joe Schmo.”

This is not the first time Trader Joe’s has taken legal action to protect its brand. Notably, just a couple years ago the company sued “Pirate Joe’s,” a counterfeiter with a backstory almost too unbelievable to be true. Pirate Joe’s was a “rebel Canadian grocery operation,” which bought Trader Joe’s products in the United States and “smuggle[d] them across the border to Vancouver” to sell them. Pirate Joe’s eventually ran aground under the immense pressure of its legal fees.

Pirate Joe’s Comes Crashing Down, Credit: Georgia Straight

This new dispute reminds me of the famous “Dumb Starbucks” experiment by comedy TV series Nathan For You. Over one weekend in 2014, the show opened a coffee shop that looked just like a real Starbucks, except that its name and every drink it sold was preceded by the word “dumb.” The comedian behind the prank (or “art“) claimed that “Dumb Starbucks” was permissible fair use because both the use of the Starbucks mark, as well as the store itself, was one big parody. One cannot help but notice some parallels to Trader Schmo; the latter word refers to a hypothetical “dumb” person.

Comedian Nathan Fielder, Credit: New Yorker

Dumb Starbucks and Trader Schmo raise difficult questions about permissible comedic use under trademark law. On the one hand, the marks free ride on the notoriety of other marks, bringing attention. On the other, it seems unlikely the marks would cause actual consumer confusion, making them harmless jokes. Whether Trader Schmo runs afoul of the Lanham Act will likely depend on two major inquiries: (1) whether it constitutes infringement or dilution, and (2) whether statutory fair use defenses apply.

InfringementPreviously on this blog, I explained that infringement usually centers on likelihood of confusion, which is evaluated using a variety of factors:

whether the use is related, the strength of the mark, proximity of the use, similarities of the marks, evidence of actual confusion, marketing channels employed, the degree of care likely to be exercised by consumers, the user’s intent in selecting the mark, and the likelihood of expansion of product/service lines.

The factors could support a finding of infringement here. The uses are related (food). The strength of the Trader Joe’s mark rides the line between arbitrary and fanciful to descriptive; who is Trader Joe in the abstract, and what does he sell? Surely the marks are similar…sounding. But on the other hand, would an average Joe really mistake Trader Schmo for Trader Joe’s? As a counter, though, it seems reasonable to infer that Trader Schmo was selected because it is similar to Trader Joe’s.

Dilution: So there might be infringement. How about dilution? This occurs when the similarity between the accused mark and a famous mark is likely to impair the distinctiveness or reputation of the famous mark. Dilution does not require any actual or likely consumer confusion. Depending on how good Trader Schmo’s Baba Ganoush, Gefilte fish, Matzo ball soup, and Borscht taste, Trader Joe’s could have an argument for dilution–especially if Trader Schmo’s grows large enough to undermine the distinctiveness of Trader Joe’s as a famous brand.

Fair Use: Generally speaking, the fair use provisions for infringement and dilution both require: (1) that the accused mark be used in a descriptive sense and not as a mark, and (2) that use of the accused mark be fair and in good faith. However, fair use does not provide a defense to infringement if there is likelihood of confusion–but we’ll gloss over that for now.

First, Trader Schmo could arguably be descriptive, delineating traded products. And the word ‘schmo’ has Jewish roots, which could describe the Kosher foods the mark designates. On the other hand, Trader Schmo isn’t inherently descriptive in that it actually describes a product or a characteristic or quality (e.g., Vision Center, a store for glasses). And it’s being used as a mark. So fair use might not even apply.

Assuming descriptiveness, the second element (the ‘fair’ aspect of the doctrine of fair use) often implicates the kinds of First Amendment interests that protect parody, satire, and criticism. But there’s no indication that Trader Schmo is intended to comment on Trader Joe’s. Moreover, courts have rejected the idea that a use is “fair” or in good faith if its similarity to a protected mark is deliberately concocted to garner attention. Trader Joe’s could have a good case for that here–just as Starbucks likely had against Dumb Starbucks.

A high-level analysis of the Trader Schmo mark suggests it could constitute infringement or dilution and is not fair use. This conclusion underscores trademark law’s general distaste for humor when it comes to commerce, as opposed to actual social commentary and comparison.

It’s that time of year again, the Minnesota State Fair is here, and trademark issues abound, again.

We’re actually not covering the trademark fair issue we planned to cover today because we just caught wind of a lulu of a trademark infringement case filed on Friday of last week against a brand new 2014 fair vendor: Lulu’s Public House.

This particular Lulu has been getting some nice press on their food offerings and on sporting the fair’s first rooftop patio, and in doing so, has gained the attention of another Lulu, and not the lemon, or the “wanna be” bed & breakfast, much less any of these federally-registered or published, peacefully-coexisting, apparently-unrelated Lulu’s eating establishments:

 

 

 

 

 

No, none other than LuLu’s Food Market & Deli Inc., d/b/a LuLu’s Market & Deli filed suit against The Firefly Group Inc., d/b/a Lulu’s Public House August 22, 2014 — the second day into the 2014 Minnesota State Fair, and at least two months after Lulu’s Public House was announced as a new 2014 fair vendor, to be located in the newly remodeled West End.

The Pioneer Press coverage of the story highlights the instances of confusion alleged in the complaint: “Lulu’s Market & Deli has been contacted by several well-wishers and job-seekers who confused it for the Lulu’s at the state fair.” It also focuses on similar menu items:

“In addition to the shared name, the complaint points out that both restaurants offer ‘Jucy Lucy’-style menu items — Lulu’s Public House sells a breakfast sandwich called the ‘Breakfast Juicy LuLu,’ while Lulu’s Market & Deli sells a cheeseburger called the ‘Fair Lucy’ — and taco menu items — Lulu’s Public House sells a prime rib taco, while Lulu’s Market & Deli sells a fish taco. The complaint says this too is likely to cause confusion among consumers.”

Notwithstanding the potential for confusion, given the timing and the delay in filing suit and failure to seek emergency injunctive relief before the opening day of the fair will likely weigh against the court taking action in time to affect any name and signage changes, at least for this year at the fair. Having said that, this case was filed in Ramsey County Minnesota State Court, not the typical federal court where most trademark infringement actions are heard, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens — but I’ll go out on a limb and predict no name changes, this year anyway, given the very heavy burden when seeking emergency injunctive relief.

Whether a name change is required between now and next year likely will depend on how the evidence develops over the course of the next year, and whether LuLu’s Public House has the stamina to defend itself, any predictions on either?

I’m so intrigued by this case, Lulu’s Market & Deli isn’t at the fair, but for more than two years the home page of their website features a jucy lucy burger called “The Fair” — honestly, what are the odds they find themselves in the present pickle of a trademark infringement action against a vendor located only at the fair?

Bottom line: Do you think the addition of “Public House” to Lulu’s at the Minnesota State Fair is enough to distinguish it from Lulu’s Market & Deli on Selby in St. Paul?

Knowing how Adidas (or should I say, adidas) jealously guards its three stripe design on shoes, and is notorious for protecting against not only three, but two and four stripe buffers as well, my eyes were drawn to this display of Nike Shox sport shoes at our local Finish Line retail store.

While I suppose different consumers will see different things, I see four stripes of uneven length about where you would expect to see stripes on a pair of Adidas shoes.

It is for this reason I suspect it is no accident that the Nike Swoosh logo and the Nike Shox word marks are positioned in immediate proximity to those parallel bands — it’s kind of hard for Adidas to make out a case of post-sale trademark confusion with the obvious Nike indicia staring you in the face, right?

But, that opinion probably assumes consumers aren’t or won’t be led to believe Nike and Adidas are related or otherwise playing on the same team, so to speak.

With all the brand consolidation going on, that may not be a safe assumption. For example, I was told this past weekend that Nike had bought Reebok, and there apparently are others under the same belief, but it appears, Adidas actually owns Reebok now.

So, if there is existing confusion over whether Nike and Adidas have joined forces, and if the truth is they remain separate entities and vigorous competitors, how might that impact Adidas ability to kill the stripes or parallel bands on the Nike Shox shoes?

My curiosity would love to see some open ended survey evidence inquiring about who put out these shoes — and then follow-up questions like, anyone else, and anyone else? And then, why do you say that?

What do you think the survey would say, to paraphrase Richard Dawson of the Family Feud game show?

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Steve has posted several times on “brand baiting” gimmicks–typically involving spam-type e-mails with enticing pictures or offers of well-known products or brands as rewards for “participation” . . . in, well, God knows what.  (Steve’s previous posts here, here, and here.)  Take a glance at them just to get the principle, then tell us what you think of this:

Huh?  Kindle for iPad?  How does that work?  No Kindle required?  But you can still buy one for $189?  Definitely bold.  Possibly bad.  Maybe good.  Giving the benefit of all doubts, perhaps Apple has given permission to Amazon to do this.  If not, I would suspect (though I don’t know) that Apple at least knows that Amazon is selling a Kindle app for use on iPad, as it appears that app developers have to register with Apple in some way.  Even so, Apple has an application to register the configuration of the iPad as a trademark, so it evidently views the mere appearance of the iPad as a trademark.

Of course, maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.  The Amazon page to which Kindle.com resolves shows this image:

(What, no Kindle for Kindle?)  Kindle is obviously now more than a device–it is a service.  Probably a smart move, especially if the iPad is killing Kindle device sales (and I don’t know that it is).  If you can’t beat ’em, might as well join ’em.  (And, as of this writing, it does not look like Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook reader has made the jump to a service-based orientation yet.)

False Advertising Bonus:  Kindle is Amazon’s #1 bestseller?  Really?  If you dig, it is #1 in sales in Electronics, so I suppose the claim is not literally false . . .

Putting aside, for now, the unsettled question of who currently owns the iPad trademark, and Dan’s perspective on Apple’s trademark clearance strategies, from last week, look at what our finely-tuned e-mail spam filter just snagged:

It is a similar story to my previous Free Dell XPS Laptop Spam Scam? blog post from last December. Here, however, the Apple, iPad, and the (possible) iPad configuration trademarks, are the newest form of brand bait for what appears to be an ongoing type of spam e-mail scam. They’re fast. It only took about two weeks after Apple’s announcement of the iPad for these folks to bait their electronic hook with the newest branding lure.

By the way, how is it that these folks can make the free offer before Apple’s iPad tablet is even available to the public? As of today, Apple still has a notify me page, if you’d like to "be among the first to receive iPad." So, doesn’t the present unavailability of the iPad add to the misleading nature of the above advertisement because it seeks "testers" for this "new" product?

What do you think, misleading advertising, fair use of Apple’s intellectual property?

This story also appears related to the topic covered in my previous Is Wal-Mart Giving Away Free $1,000 Gift Cards? blog post too.

What do these unsolicited e-mail programs have in common? Well, besides the fact that they all appear to originate from Canada (for reasons unknown to me), they use well-known, if not famous brands to attract attention online and convince you to supply them with your e-mail address. Really, would anyone pay even an ounce of attention to any of these e-mail spam solicitations without the unauthorized use of these popular brand names and images?

In an apparent attempt to avoid misleading anyone and confusion, of course, as was the case with the Free Dell XPS offer and the Wal-Mart $1,000 Gift Card offer, the Apple iPad ad offers a purported disclaimer:

The advertisers in this email are not affiliated with any of the above brands.

This is a third party advertisement sent to you by the list owner. If you no longer wish to receive email from this advertiser, please write Reward Group 191 7 West 4th Avenue, Suite 279 Vancouver, B.C. VJ6-1M7 or visit our email removal site by click here.

If you do not wish to receive correspondence from the list manager you will need to follow the unsubscribe instructions provide by the list manager on how to remove you from their list.

Who are the advertisers? Who is the list owner? It says the advertisers are not affiliated with any of the brands, so does that mean the list owner is? Does this disclaimer do the job with claims relating to likelihood of confusion as to source, affiliation, sponsorship, and approval?

Even in the unlikely event it does, what about claims for initial interest confusion? Where is the disclaimer for that additional type of unlawful trademark confusion? And, since there is a reasonable claim of trademark fame for many of these brands, is it even possible to have a disclaimer that avoids a state or federal dilution claim concerning a famous mark?

Mark Image

Brand managers and marketers often wonder about the risks and consequences of not enforcing or protecting their trademarks from infringement. A shooting target formed by a series of concentric circles is the best graphic I have found to illustrate the legal answer to their frequent question.

Judging from the robust criticism Twitter has received about its lax or laissez-faire approach to trademark enforcement, the Twitter folks have never seen (or perhaps they have chosen to ignore) the shooting target graphic illustration. Distilling these criticisms to their essence, basically there are more than a few folks out there asking Twitter: “What are you doing?”

The irony of this is hard not to find amusing, given how Twitter explains its reason for existence this way: “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” For Twitter, only time will tell how “simple” the trademark enforcement “question” is for itself to answer.

Continue Reading On Trademark Enforcement & Protection: Is Twitter on Target or Off the Mark?