The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Ohio State University's trademark filing on the word "The." The AP reports:
OSU submitted the trademark application last month.
The patent office cited the trademark appears to be used for “merely decorative manner” and as an “ornamental feature” that doesn’t appear to function as a trademark that would differentiate the items from others.
Ohio State University files for a trademark on "THE"
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"The Ohio State University" is apparently the full name of Ohio State, and to remind everyone of it, they're selling a line of clothing emblazoned with the stark word "THE," and so they've asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to give them the exclusive right to sell t-shirts, baseball hats and hats with the word "THE" on them. This is stupidly generic and unlikely to survive a challenge or even examination. Doesn't THE university have a law-school that could prevent this kind of public embarrassment?
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They ruled unanimously on one element and 6-3 on another, with liberals and conservatives on either side.
The justices ruled in favor of a company called "FUCT" whose trademark was earlier found to have violated the provision.
The court found that the statute can't stand because it "disfavors certain ideas."
Justices Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch ruled in the majority.
Chief Justice John Roberts, alongside Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, partially dissented.
All so the first "FUCT" can sue all the other FUCTS! This ruling follows a similar one a couple of years ago, allowing an Asian band named "The Slants" to register their trademark after the USPTO told them to get fuct. Read the rest
In 1994, Disney trademarked the use of the phrase "hakuna matata" on clothing, footwear, and headgear. The common Swahili phrase, meaning "no trouble," was the name of a song in Disney's movie The Lion King. Now, a petition for Disney to give up the copyright, has more than 50,000 signatures.
(Zimbabwean activist Shelton) Mpala told CNN he started the petition "to draw attention to the appropriation of African culture and the importance of protecting our heritage, identity and culture from being exploited for financial gain by third parties. This plundered artwork serves to enrich or benefit these museums and corporations and not the creators or people it's derived from."
(image: a selection of goods from Alibaba.com)
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Why does Ivanka Trump need trademarks for nursing homes, sausage casing, and *voting machines* in China? Or do we not want to know. Read the rest
The owners of Toronto's "Trump Hotel" just spent a reported $6M to get out of its deal with Trump and cleanse their property of his hated name; they will probably rebrand it as a "St Regis" hotel instead. Read the rest
Disney, through the Jim Henson Company, is the owner of the domain name muppetfucker.net. There is nothing at the address, but... why? io9's Beth Elderkin investigates and finds the answer to be the obvious one: a guy registered the domain long ago and the muppet people made him give it up on pain of expensive legal action.
Austin resident Noah Lee started going by the DJ name Muppetfucker in 1995, after he and a friend of his came up with it and thought it was funny. He used the name for six years, and owned several MuppetFucker domain names, including MuppetFucker.net. Lee told io9 the Jim Henson Company likely found out about Muppetfucker after he performed at SXSW in March 2001 and got a review in a local weekly magazine. A few days after the review came out, Lee got a cease-and-desist letter from the Jim Henson Company, which demanded he stop using the name Muppetfucker and hand over all domain rights.
“The day the letter showed up, I walked to my mailbox and opened it up, and when I pulled out that Kermit letterhead I knew right then it was over,” Lee told io9.
Whatever trademark registrations surround the word "muppet" must be quite shopworn by now: in the UK, the word is a common euphemism for "idiot".
Good news, though! Read the rest
DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc (a division of one of the largest privately owned companies in the world) used to have the concessions to operate various businesses around Yosemite National Park. Now that they've been fired, they're using some decidedly dubious trademark to force the Park Service to change the names of buildings and locations that have stood for as much as a century, including some that have been designated national landmarks. Read the rest
A federal judge today cancelled the Washington Redskins federal trademark registrations on their name because it's racist. US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee's decision affirmed a previous ruling that that the name is offensive to Native Americans and as such can't be legally be protected.
The cancellation, hailed by Native American activists as a “huge victory,” doesn’t go into effect until the team has exhausted the appeals process in the federal court system. And Redskins President Bruce Allen vowed Wednesday that the team would appeal.
“We are convinced that we will win on appeal as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years, said Resdskins president Bruce Allen.
From the Washington Post:
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(Lee rejected) the team’s argument that the vast majority of Native Americans had no objection to the name when the trademarks were granted between 1967 and 1990. Instead the judge questioned why the team ever chose the name, pointing out in his ruling that Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defined the word as “often contemptuous” in 1898, “seventy years prior to the registration of the first Redskins Mark.”
Insanity at the intersection of trademark law, marketing, and patient safety: "New drug names aren’t just bizarre," writes David Shultz. "They’re dangerous."
In any other industry, calling your product Xalkori would be the business blunder of the century. But this isn’t any other industry; this is pharma.
“Xalkori is not just a crazy name,” says R. John Fidelino, who, as director of creative at the firm InterbrandHealth, helped bring the word into existence.
Here's a searchable index of drugs; if you run out, there's always the drug name generator, complete with advertising bullet points and side effects. Somewhere out there, there is a "Prescription medication or evil wizard?" site, but I can't find it. [via MeFi] Read the rest
Will.i.am is going after Pharrell Williams, claiming that Pharrell's application to register the name of his new company "I am OTHER" infringes on Will.i.am's trademarks which apparently include the words "I AM."
"I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me," Pharrell told Rolling Stone. "I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions. I am surprised in how this is being handled and I am confident that Will's trademark claims will ultimately be found to be as meritless and ridiculous as I do."
"Will.i.am Takes Legal Action Against Pharrell's 'i am OTHER' Brand" Read the rest
Ali Spagnola spent three years and $30,000 of her own money to void a ridiculous trademark awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office. She won, but the larger problem remains, with the odds stacked against independent artists who lack the financial and legal wherewithal to monitor the office for abusive filings or oppose them successfully.
Meanwhile, at Ars Technica, John Brodkin has two stories about Facebook:
Facebook says it may sue employers who demand job applicants' passwords: "We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges."
Facebook is trying to expand its trademark rights over the word "book" by adding the claim to a newly revised version of its "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities," the agreement all users implicitly consent to by using or accessing Facebook.
Hiss! Read the rest
Louis Vuitton is well-known for its abusive trademark enforcement, but its latest legal adventure is unbelievable. The luxury goods company threatened the University of Pennsylvania Law School after a student group parodied the LV monogram on a poster for a trademark law symposium.
"This egregious action is not only a serious willful infringement and knowingly dilutes the LV Trademarks, but also may mislead others into thinking this type of unlawful activity is somehow 'legal' or constitutes 'fair use' because the Penn Intellectual Property Group is sponsoring a seminar on fashion law and 'must be experts'," wrote LV lawyer Michael Pantalony in a cease and desist letter. "I would have thought the Penn Intellectual Property Group, and its faculty advisors, would understand the basics of intellectual property law."
The poster, titled "Fashion Law", takes the distinctive LV monogram and replaces its iconography with copyright and trademark symbols. The symposium takes place March 20 in Philadelphia.
In a reply to Pantalony, the University's general counsel denied that the poster infringed LV's trademarks, describing the laws that establish the public right to parody—especially for noncommercial and educational purposes. He also invited Pantalony to attend the symposium so that he may learn more about intellectual property.
Don't Upset the Intellectual Property Fashion Police [Freedom to Tinker] Read the rest
At The Awl, Maria Bustillos authored an excellent feature about the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which became a huge hit 60 years after it was first printed by the British government. An entrepreneur recently obtained a trademark on the phrase and is already firing papers at competitors, even those who popularized the vanishingly rare poster before he did. Read the rest