Posts Tagged ‘trademarks’

Intellectual property law roundup

  • The law should not accord the state of Georgia a copyright over its code of law, even if the code has annotations [Trevor Burrus and Sam Spiegelman on Cato amicus certiorari brief in State of Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, earlier here and here] And a transcript of today’s oral argument before the Supreme Court;
  • Update: federal judge Kaplan imposes sanctions on alleged “copyright troll” Richard Liebowitz, further complications ensue [Eugene Volokh, more, ABA Journal, earlier]
  • How Coca-Cola responds to flavor suggestions from fans on Twitter [Mike Masnick]
  • “California Man Gets Sued After Trying To Trademark Bully A Theme Park’ [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • “Like Righthaven before it, the Higbee firm has been taking advantage of hosts who failed to take the proper registration steps to perfect their DMCA immunity from copyright claims” [Paul Alan Levy and more, earlier here and here] And yet more;
  • “A root beer start-up, an energy drink company and an ugly trademark battle” [Andrew Yarrow, Washington Post/Keene Sentinel]

Retailer: sorry about that overreaching trademark claim. Also, we’ve fired our lawyers.

Some outdoor enthusiasts launched a boycott of electronic retailer BackCountry.com after reports that it had unleashed a barrage of trademark lawsuits against various smaller companies that had sought to claim more specialized uses of the word “backcountry.” Company CEO Jonathan Nielsen published an apology and then, according to published reports, went a step further [Adam Ruggiero/Gearjunkie, Jason Blevins/Colorado Sun]

“Ohio State seeks to trademark the word ‘The'”

“Ohio State is seeking a trademark on one of the most common words in the English language. The school, formally known as The Ohio State University, is seeking a trademark on the word ‘The’ for use on clothing and hats.” [ESPN] The rival University of Michigan responded:

Meanwhile, a small firm in Wales called Boss Brewing has changed the name of some of its products following trademark opposition and cease and desist correspondence from the German clothing maker Hugo Boss. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Update: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has sent a letter to Ohio State indicating that the application will be rejected, although one of its reasons might be unsettling, namely that another applicant (the Marc Jacobs fashion house) had already filed to seek a trademark on the word “The” as applied to handbags, knapsacks, and the like [Caron/TaxProf]

Lawyer dad sues lawyer son to stop using own name in ads

South Carolina: “Personal injury lawyer and ubiquitous TV pitchman George Sink wants his namesake son to stop using his birth-given moniker to market a fledgling law firm, saying two attorneys with identical names are confusing potential clients.” The request for a temporary injunction against George Sink, Jr. cites the likelihood of confusion with the trademarks of the elder’s firm, for which the son worked until the two parted ways in February. [David Wren, Charleston Post and Courier]

An agreement between the father and son calls for any business dispute to be settled in arbitration, which is tentatively scheduled for December, and limits damages to $500 — an amount Sink Jr. already has paid to his father.

Sink Sr. said in court documents the agreement should be set aside because he signed it without reading it. …The temporary injunction, if granted, would last until an arbitrator decides the case.

P.S. Meanwhile in NYC: “The messy professional break-up between hot-shot personal-injury lawyers Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes is moving from the courthouse to the playhouse, dramatized in a stage show playing next month in Brooklyn.” [Aaron Feis and Julia Marsh, New York Post, earlier]

July 10 roundup

  • Hearse driver in HOV lane to highway patrol: you mean I can’t count the corpse as a passenger? [Michelle Lou, CNN]
  • “Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt, earlier]
  • Before trying to open a storefront business in San Francisco you might look to this advice from commercial real estate brokers about the city’s zoning and permit hurdles, and please quit using words like “bonkers” or “flabbergasting” [Robert Fruchtman Twitter thread]
  • “Lawyer engaged in ‘sustained campaign of unfounded litigation,’ disbarment recommendation says” [ABA Journal; Waukegan, Illinois]
  • Breaking from two other federal appeals courts, Third Circuit rules that Amazon as a platform can be sued under strict liability principles over defective items sold by third-party vendors on its site [Brendan Pierson, Reuters] Should the ruling stand, implications for online marketplaces are dire [Eric Goldman]
  • New challenges for Mathew Higbee, high volume copyright enforcement lawyer, and his clients [Paul Alan Levy, more, earlier]

June 26 roundup

  • European authorities may order social media platform to prevent Euro users from seeing allegedly defamatory comments maligning an Austrian politician. Can they also order the comments kept from American users, even if American law would treat them as protected expression? [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • By 6-3 margin, with three Justices concurring in part and dissenting in part, Supreme Court rules that First Amendment bars rule against registration of “scandalous” trademarks; Cato had submitted a humorous brief [Melissa Quinn, Washington Examiner, Ilya Shapiro, earlier; Iancu v. Brunetti]
  • Mexico files charges of cultural appropriation against Carolina Herrera fashion house over native-inspired designs [Julie Zerbo, Fashion Law, AFP, related earlier on indigenous cultures and intellectual property]
  • Schumpeterian innovation and the campaign to break up Big Tech [Ryan Bourne, Cato, earlier]
  • “Another survey of consumer law professors fails to find any who always reads consumer contracts before signing them” [Jeff Sovern, earlier]
  • Settlement of trademark, copyright claims over Star Control game series specifies that litigants must exchange honey and mead [Lee Hutchinson, ArsTechnica]

June 19 roundup

  • Gorsuch: “A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result.” And yet he and Ginsburg were the only dissenters from the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision Monday in Gamble v. U.S. to allow consecutive state and federal prosecutions over the same conduct, the so-called dual sovereignty exception to double jeopardy protection [Reuters, Ilya Shapiro, Cato brief (with ACLU and Constitutional Accountability Center) that had urged an end to the exception; and a conspiracy theory about Kavanaugh that wound up having absolutely no predictive value]
  • “When Should Plaintiffs Be Able to Sue Anonymously?” [Eugene Volokh]
  • 77-year-old antitrust consent decrees were designed for a music business that long since faded into history, DOJ’s decision to reconsider is welcome [Federalist Society podcast with Kristen Osenga and Mark Schultz, Osenga blog post]
  • Clarence Darrow once boasted a cult following among American lawyers. His manipulative speech in the Leopold/Loeb case leaves you to wonder whether much will outlive the hype [Bryan Caplan]
  • Federal aid-to-state programs have exploded in recent years, a good way to redistribute money and power into the hands of political elites with little taxpayer or voter accountability [Chris Edwards, Cato, new study and blog post]
  • Dear Caterpillar: do you think there is much likelihood of consumer confusion about whether this coffee shop t-shirt is promoting earth-moving machinery? [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Free speech roundup

  • “In Cato’s latest ‘funny brief,’ Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus are once again telling the Court that scandalous speech is valuable to society and that there’s no way for a government office to be trusted to decide what’s ‘scandalous.'” [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus on Cato certiorari amicus brief (with P.J. O’Rourke, Nadine Strossen, and others) in trademark registration case of Iancu v. Brunetti]
  • Could someone remind the President of the United States that there’s no law against making fun of him on TV? [Jacob Sullum]
  • New Zealand declares it a crime to possess or distribute manifesto of Christchurch mass murderer, begins filing charges against persons who shared on social media [Charlotte Graham-McLay, New York Times via Josh Blackman, Tripti Lahiri/Quartz]
  • Airport concession flap appears to set up a First Amendment case that Chick-fil-A would win, should it choose to pursue its rights against the city of San Antonio [KSAT, Hans Bader] Courts take seriously the doctrine of First Amendment retaliation even in otherwise discretionary areas of government operation [David French on Riley’s American Heritage Farms v. Claremont Unified School District, C.D. Calif. (school field trips to “living history farm” with outspokenly conservative owner)]
  • Courts should narrowly construe “true threat” exception to free speech law to cases where there is objective threat, not just malicious intent [Ilya Shapiro and Michael Finch on Cato certiorari amicus brief in Knox v. Pennsylvania]
  • Did a federal magistrate judge order the Chicago Sun-Times not to publish a juicy, mistakenly unsealed FBI affidavit from the city’s unfolding corruption case? (The paper published anyway) [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

January 9 roundup

  • Maker of Steinway pianos threatens legal action against owners who advertise existing instruments for sale as used Steinways if they contain other-than-factory replacement parts [Park Avenue Pianos]
  • When the Securities and Exchange Commission settles with defendants, it extracts gag orders forbidding them to talk about the experience. Is it constitutional for the government to do that? [Peggy Little, New Civil Liberties Alliance/WSJ] Update: Cato is suing about this on behalf of former businessman who wants to write book about his experience in court against the SEC [Clark Neily]
  • Judge preliminarily enjoins New York City ordinance requiring home-sharing platforms like AirBnB to turn over to authorities “breathtaking” volume of data about users [SDNY Blog]
  • U.S. Chamber’s top ten bad lawsuits of 2018 [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse] “The Most Important Class Action Decisions of 2018 and a Quick Look at What’s to Come” [R. Locke Beatty & Laura Lange, McGuire Woods]
  • “Small aircraft engines are much less reliable than automobile engines. Why? Well, they all must be FAA certified, and it’s not worth the cost to certify, say, a new model of spark plug.” [John Cochrane, who gives HIPAA and military examples too]
  • “Why logos and art are sometimes blurred on reality TV shows” [Andy Dehnart, Reality Blurred, 2017]

January 2 roundup

  • Extended look at problems of the adult guardianship program in New York [John Leland, New York Times, earlier]
  • “‘Professional Speech’: a Distinction without a Difference” after the NIFLA case [Cato podcast with Caleb Brown and Robert McNamara of Institute for Justice]
  • New York enacts law imposing stiff new tax on opioid makers and wholesalers while forbidding them to recoup it by raising prices for buyers in other states. That won’t fly under the Dormant Commerce Clause, rules federal judge [Nate Raymond, Reuters/Insurance Journal]
  • Should courts uphold laws grounded in part on hostility to a religious group, though rationalized on some other basis? Both right and left have trouble staying consistent [Ilya Somin]
  • “Oxford University Gets Opposition To Its Attempt To Trademark ‘Oxford’ For All The Things” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Australian corrections officials keep bringing the wrong Peter Brown to court as murder defendant [Lowering the Bar]