The Village Voice received an improbable trademark over the use of "BEST OF" in connection with lists of the best things on offer in various cities, and now they're suing Yelp for creating their own "Best of" lists. This ridiculous suit is only possible because of the US Patent and Trademark Office's bungling, terrible methods, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Corynne McSherry writes, and will only be resolved when the USPTO cleans up its act:
What is going on at the Patent and Trademark Office? For decades, folks have been complaining (with good reason) that the patent examiners need to do a better job of screening out bogus patent applications. It’s clear that the problem extends to the trademark side as well. The PTO has allowed companies and individuals to register marks in any number of obviously generic and/or descriptive terms, such as “urban homestead” (to refer to urban farms), “gaymer” (to refer to gay gamers), and “B-24” (to refer to model B-24 bombers).
Once a mark is registered, it is all too easy for the owner to become a trademark bully. And while companies like Yelp have the resources to fight back (as we expect it will), small companies and individuals may not. Just as dangerous, the trademark owner may go upstream, to intermediaries like Facebook who have little incentive to do anything other than take down an account or site that’s accused of infringement.
"Good enough for government work" isn't good enough for free speech. It’s time the PTO did its part to stop trademark bullies and tightened up the trademark application process. Fewer bogus registrations means fewer bogus threats, and more online creativity and competition. That's a win for everyone.
Stupid Lawyer Tricks (And How the PTO Could Help Stop Them)
As Oracle desperately tries to reanimate its wretched, failed attempt to destroy everything Sun Microsystems stood for and end computer science as we know it, there’s never been a better time to rock one of these “You Wouldn’t Reimplement an API” tees, which were an underground hit during the earlier trial.
Kyohazard’s Lament Configuration is a terrific piece of fan-art for those of us who loved the Hellraiser movies (the good ones, at least).
This is a pretty amazing vacancy: “You will lead Consumer Reports in our effort to realize a market where consumer safety is protected through strong encryption; consumers’ rights to test, repair, and modify their devices are supported by copyright, security, and consumer protection laws; and consumers are empowered to make informed choices about IoT products […]
If you’re like us, packing and unpacking are two of your least favorite aspects of traveling. Specifically with multi-destination trips, our suitcases usually end in wrinkled clothing, toothpaste stains, and a misplaced deodorant.The good news is that we’ve found a suitcase that eliminates the disastrous effects of packing and unpacking: The Rolo Travel Bag ($42.99). You essentially use it […]
Finding quality icons is a challenge for designers, and can also get pretty costly if you use them often. And when you’ve got a lot to do, the last thing you want to spend your time on is creating new icons from scratch That’s why we recommend using the Noun Project ($49). Noun Project is a site […]
While Netflix and Hulu have seemingly dominated the streaming market with their limited selections, we’ve looked a little outside the box and found something pretty great as an alternative. SelectTV combines all the content of cable with the convenience of streaming, and it’s affordable too.SelectTV is an online subscription service that packs an impressive library of over […]