When  last we checked in on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s posthumous intellectual property enforcement activities (“Conan Doyle Estate  Down for the Count“), his estate’s attempt to enjoin publication of a collection of original Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Sherlock, was rejected in an opinion written by Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner. In that case…

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Here is a marketing conundrum. How do you brand a $575,000 specialty vehicle, built on a Ford truck chassis, that is designed to look like a tank? If you answered “Name it after General George S. Patton” give yourself a 21-gun salute. But here’s the rub—in one of the most astute tactical moves of his storied military career, Patton…

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As has been widely reported, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has ruled that “redskins” is deeply offensive slur and can not be federally registered as a trademark under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that contain “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living…

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It has been almost 25 years since Laramie, a small Philadelphia-based purveyor of “rack” (read “knockoff”) toys switched roles and scored an enormous hit with its TV-advertised, patented, and SUPER SOAKER® branded line of air pressure water guns. As Laramie’s chief intellectual property enforcer at the time, I remember well several frenetic years of legal…

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No, this is not another contribution to the on-going debate over whether Subway’s vaunted “footlong” sandwiches actually measure 12 full inches. I will leave that to the consumer affairs bloggers. Our concern is with Subway’s effort to monopolize the word “footlong” as a registered trademark for 12-inch, give or take, heros/submarines/wedges/hoagies/grinders. Last week the Trademark Trial…

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Some of my favorite trademark cases involve “reverse confusion.” Instead of the usual scenario in which a rich and powerful senior trademark user crushes a little start-up for trading on its good name, the essence of a reverse confusion case is that a rich and powerful entity has flooded the market with much more promiscuous use of a…

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It was some ten years ago, while the Boston Red Sox were still mired in the 86-year championship drought brought on by the Curse of the Bambino, that their president Larry Lucchino hung the moniker “Evil Empire” on the New York Yankees.  The Yankees, as Lucchino should have anticipated, took it as a compliment and good naturedly…

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Have I ranted about this lately?  A “trademark” is a word, symbol or other indicator of the source and quality of goods or services, i.e., a noun.  Something can only serve as a trademark if it becomes associated by some segment of the public with a particular source.  When it ceases to do that (perhaps by…

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Since 1979, Marsha Fox has sold chocolate, rooster-shaped lollipops — especially popular among fans of the University of South Carolina and Jacksonville State Gamecocks — using the fully intended double entendre COCK SUCKER.  In 2001 she applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the design shown here as a trademark.   Yesterday the United States Court of…

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The over-arching economic problem that dogs all of American patent and copyright law is one of demarcation—when is the marginal utility of  an incentive provided to one innovator “to promote progress in science and the useful arts” outweighed by the burden it places on the creativity and economic freedom of everyone else and is therefore counterproductive?  In The…

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