December 11 roundup

  • Nastygrams fly at Christmas time over display and festival use of “Jingle Bells”, Grinch, etc. [Elefant]
  • Claims that smoking ban led to instantaneous plunge in cardiac deaths in Scotland turns out to be as fishy as similar claims elsewhere [Siegel on tobacco via Sullum, Reason “Hit and Run”]
  • Myths about the costs and consequences of an automaker Chapter 11 filing [Andrew Grossman, Heritage; Boudreaux, WSJ] Drowning in mandates and Congress throws them an anchor [Jenkins, WSJ]
  • Mikal Watts may be the most generous of the trial lawyers bankrolling the Texas Democratic Party’s recent comeback [Texas Watchdog via Pero]
  • Disney settles ADA suit demanding Segway access at Florida theme parks “by agreeing to provide disabled guests with at least 15 newly-designed four-wheeled vehicles.” [OnPoint News, earlier]
  • Update on Scientology efforts to prevent resale of its “e-meter” devices on eBay [Coleman]
  • Scary: business-bashing lawprof Frank Pasquale wants the federal government to regulate Google’s search algorithm [Concurring Opinions, SSRN]
  • Kind of an endowment all by itself: “Princeton is providing $40 million to pay the legal fees of the Robertson family” (after charges of endowment misuse) [MindingTheCampus]


  • Frank Pasquale: First regulate it, then tax it, then create an argument that it’s contributing to climate change.

  • The first article is quite sparse on details. On what legal theory are the lawyers claiming that calling something the Jingle Bell Festival would violate someones rights, since Jingle Bells was copyrighted on September 16, 1857. Back then, the copyright term was very limited from what I remember. And even giving the benefit of the doubt and putting it under modern copyright rules (life of the author 75 years) the song is clearly in the public domain since the author died in 1893, 115 years ago.

    Or is this another one of those, can’t use any Christmas terms when naming stuff for fear of offending non-Christians?

  • After more research, it seems that Black Crow Media copyrighted the name “JIngle Bells Festival” and the idea of running a festival with that name. That is ridiculous, the city should have gone to trail and not settled out of court on this thing.

  • cell,

    Is the name “Jingle Bells Festival” copyrighted or trademarked? Titles of literary works are not subject to copyright – I don’t think that titles of festivals are subject to copyright either. Is this actually a trademark?

  • According to everything I’ve read, they just copyrighted, no mentions of trademark at all.

  • Although several stories do indeed mention the “Jingle Bell Festival” issue in the context of copyright, I note that none of them is a technical discussion by a lawyer and that non-lawyers often confuse copyright and trademark. I just searched the USPTO database and found two trademark registrations for “Jingle Bell Festival”: 77602844 and 77250093. The former is for “Advertising namely, promoting “Jingle Bells” song in association with Valdosta, Georgia Composer’s residence through the distribution of printed and audio promotional materials and by rendering sales promotion advice”. It looks to me like this one might not apply to the festival in question. The latter is for: “Organizing community festivals featuring a variety of activities, namely sporting events, art exhibitions, flea markets, ethnic dances and the like”. It looks like it would apply, but was abandoned on 2008-05-21.