Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Boston vs. the Mooninites

Turner Broadcasting better hope there really is no such thing as bad publicity, because publicity doesn't get much worse than causing a city-wide terror scare. Apparently these devices were in place in Boston for at least two weeks before the authorities were made aware of their existence. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about that.


Google Loses GMAIL in EU

Ars Technica reports that Google has been dealt a blow by OHIM with regard to the mark GMAIL in the EU. I'm sure IPKat will have the story soon.

Daniel Giersch, a German-born 32-year old entrepreneur, has just announced that his company received a positive ruling last week from the Harmonization Office supporting his claim that "Gmail" and his own "G-mail" are confusingly similar. G-mail is a German service that provides a "" email address, but also allows for a sort of "hybrid mail" system in which documents can be sent electronically, printed out by the company, and delivered in paper format to local addresses.

Giersch has been successful in German courts so far, which is why German users can't sign up for "" accounts (they get "" instead), and he has now taken his fight to the EU office that handles trademark disputes for the continent. On January 23, according the Giersch, the Harmonization Office supported his own claim against Google, a company he refers to as "Googliath."


Ready for the Big Game?

Super Bowl tops Forbes' list of most valuable sporting event brands.

Why is the Super Bowl so valuable? Commercial inventory for last year's game on ABC -- owned by the Walt Disney Co. -- amounted to $154 million, based on a record $2.5 million commercial rate for 30 seconds of airtime. Sprint Nextel paid $12 million to sponsor halftime, a figure that is expected to be topped by PepsiCo when the Colts play the Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday.


Nothing Moral About It

Fountain is arguably one of Marcel Duchamp's most important pieces in his series of Readymades. In 2006 one of five versions of of Fountain was attacked with a hammer by "performance artist" Pierre Pinoncelli (not the first time) while on display at the Pompidou Centre. The attack resulted in a chip to the piece. The urinal was subsequently restored. Pinoncelli is now claiming that his moral rights in his "ouevre derivee" were violated when the museum restored the piece. (via the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and IPKat)


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

RIAA and Statutory Mechanicals

This article regarding the RIAA's request for a lowering of the statutory mechanical rate states:

The current rate is out of touch with reality, the RIAA argued for the labels in papers filed with the Copyright Royalty Judges. The rate hasn't been adjusted by the government since 1981. Meanwhile, the labels, songwriters and music publishers have been able to make a deal..

Did someone not fact check the article, or am I missing something? Here is a chart showing all the changes in the statutory rate since 1909. The last time I looked the CARP's were part of the "government."


Monday, January 29, 2007

The anti-cease-and-desist letter

Clever blogger creates parody of Liden Lab's Second Life, calls it Get A First Life. Includes a link for "comments or cease-and-desist letters." Linden Lab leaves an amusing comment denying the request for a C-and-D, and including this passage...
Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.
Linden Lab goes on to note that the parodist is selling products with a modified Second Life logo on them, but has failed to secure a proper license to do so. Linden Lab then grants the parodist the appropriate license.

Well played. Well played indeed.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

YouTube to Pay Users for Conent

YouTube to plans to compensate users for content. (via Slashdot)


Friday, January 26, 2007

Baby Einstein and Substantiation of Marketing Claims

Rebecca Tushnet has posted an interesting piece on the FTC's involvement with false advertising claims. The FTC has the power to act in many cases where the public does not have standing to sue under the Lanham Act, and where there is no incentive for a competitor to bring suit. One angle not explored is state unfair competition and decptive practices law. Comparative advertising and substantiation of claims came up at the INTA Roundtable last week, but FTC involvement was not discussed.


Ten-Year Old Involved in Film Financing Litigation

Even ten year olds can't avoid film financing litigation. The perils and complications involved in film financing cannot be overstated.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pay to Play

Scott Kirsner of Cinematech has compiled a handy guide to the growing world of video sites that share revenue with creators. It's also in his book.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, Fox has subpoenaed Google to find out who uploaded episodes of the premiere of 24 before the show aired. My money's on Jack's nephew (or is he his son?). He looks a little shifty-eyed to me.


Hendrix Branding Run Amok

Jimi Hendrix and energy drinks? I'm sorry, I just don't see the connection.

Hendrix's image has also been licensed for products including baby clothing, an air freshener and a lava lamp.


Names of Towns as Trademarks

Two recent stories regarding the use of the name of a town as a trademark. Natick, Massachusetts and Katonah, New York. One results in a federal registration, the other in the express abandonment of a federal application.


Monday, January 22, 2007


Diner: "What is your house wine?"

Waiter: "House Wine."

HOUSE WINE trademark prosecution history available here. Note that the registered mark includes a design element and that there is a disclaimer for the words HOUSE WINE.


Pump and Dump Spam Works

Does pump and dump spam have an effect on stock price? Laura Frieder and Jonathan Zittrain think so. [I]t appears that spammers are able to achieve a 5% gain on pumped stock before dumping it, along with a dramatic increase in transaction volume of the stock. Click through for links to their working paper.


Champagne, Oysters, Oranges, and Geographic Indicators

Do you know which cove your oysters come from?


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hardee's Jr.

Was there ever a difference between Hardee's and Carl's Jr.? If so, it is quickly disappearing.


Indie Labels Join Forces to Fight Piracy and Expand Distribution

Indie record labels form consortium to fight piracy and negotiate distribution deals.

The creation of the organization was hastened “because of the announcements made last year with Google, YouTube and MySpace”, said Alison Wenham, a founder member and president of Worldwide Independent Network: “We have begun discussing licensing with those companies.”

Matt adds: As their first order of business, the members of Merlin (which includes Rough Trade, Epitaph and Domino) are partnering with Snocap to facilitate sales of digital downloads on Myspace. Some brief analysis from Coolfer.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Copyright Protection for Lawyers

Tom Field revisits the lawyers copying lawyers drama.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Cisco GC Blogs About Apple iPhone Trademark Spat

Mark Chandler, Cisco's SVP and General Counsel, blogs about Apple's alleged infringement of Cisco's iPhone trademark.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

What About The Children?

First there was COCAINE for energy drinks and now a San Francisco company has applied for federal registration of the mark METH COFFEE (stylized) for coffee. (via Boing Boing)


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

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Intrepid blogger turns brains to mush tallying up the ads-to-content ratio in last weekend's Colts/Chiefs playoff game (including pre-game and halftime). The end result: just about 50/50. Rather astonishing, particularly if you're accustomed to DVR'ing the games and skipping the ads. Not quite as bad as the Rose Bowl, which he also monitored.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Real Money Laundering in Virtual Worlds

World-Check, an international risk intellegence company, has an interesting article by Kenneth Rijock about the potential for virtual worlds to be used for money laundering. (via Second Life Herald)


Public Safety Hearing Scheduled in Massachusetts Ticket Scalping Case

The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety is about to dive into the ticket scalping controversy.

The Department of Public Safety, which has never disciplined any of the ticket resellers it regulates, has scheduled a hearing on whether a Kenmore Square ticket agency violated the antiscalping law last August when it tried to sell a $130 Green Monster ticket for a Red Sox game for $825.

The state's antiscalping law, which dates to 1924, doesn't prohibit ticket purchases above face value, but it requires anyone in the business of reselling tickets in Massachusetts to obtain a license from Public Safety and limits markups to $2 above face value plus certain service charges.

The hearing is scheduled for March.


Superior Aesthetics and Squeezability

You know you've made it when you receive a TTABlog floating keytag. Thanks, John.


Cultural Patrimony in the Arts and Eakins' The Gross Clinic

Yesterday's Sunday Globe has a great article about the Gross Clinic controversy in Philadelphia. The article does a good job discussing issues of cultural patrimony in the arts. The Art Law Blog has been following this story for quite a while. I highly recommend looking through those archives. More info also at the The Illicit Cultural Property Blog.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

"This business is rotten"

The Boston Globe interviews Diana Levesque, mother and manager of pop singer/actress JoJo. JoJo signed a six album deal (!!) at age 12, had her first hit at age 13, and has since gone through five lawyers in three years. A good look at a Mom who, for now at least, appears to have instilled in her kid the proper fear and respect for the perils of the music industry.


Consumer Protection Law and Online Businesses in Massachusetts

The E-Legal Lawyer has a good summary of the application of Massachusetts' consumer protection statute (ch. 93A) to online businesses, especially with regard to jurisdiction issues.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Beer, Butts, and Breasts

The State of Maine has reversed its decision to block the sale of Santa's Butt Winter Porter, along with two beers with labels depicting bare-breasted women. The state attorney general's office determined that the company would likely win a lawsuit the ACLU filed on its behalf and that the beer labels were likely to be protected under the First Amendment. One of the labels at issue featured a reproduction of the painting "Liberty Leading the People" by Eugene Delacroix's.


Friday, January 05, 2007


Linux user purchases a Dell and then proceeds to successfully "return" his unused copy of Windows. The post is a really a series of tips for others wanting to do the same. (via Slashdot)


Domain Tasting and Domain Kiting

If by now you are not familiar with the terms "domain tasting" and "domain kiting," you should be. The Seattle Trademark Lawyer has a good set of links for background on these practices.


This Time It's Civil

This time it's Snoop, reminding us to review deal terms carefully to avoid conflicts with previous contracts. New York-based Natural Resources Media & Technology Group has filed suit against the rapper's Snoop Youth Football League Foundation, alleging the foundation made a deal for a reality television series chronicling Snoop's involvement in the league in violation of a pre-existing deal with 20th Century Fox to develop a similar feature film.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

$179,000 Paid For Virtual Real Estate in Project Entropia

CNet is reporting two buyers have paid $179,000.00 for three digital malls in the virtual world Project Entropia. The sale came after ten days of bidding. Although the article cites a MindArk press release, it does not seem to be availble yet on the MindArk site.


You Shall Read This Post

Over at AdamsDrafting, Ken Adams has provided yet another brain twister involving the word "shall," this time examining when it expresses an obligation versus a condition and why you need to understand the distinction before you start drafting your contract.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ethiopia's Coffee Trademark Strategy

Coffee Politics has a very interesting post regarding Ethiopia's efforts to control the coffee names Harar, Sidamo, and Yirgacheffe.

Ethiopia’s sweeping plan is to register the names in more than 30 countries including the U.S. So far, the country has been granted trademarks for all three names in Canada and the European Union, which consists of 25 member countries. In Japan, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo have been successfully registered while the application for Harar is pending due to prior registration of the name under a Japanese company. In the U.S., however, Ethiopia’s efforts faced a bump due to resistance by Starbucks and the National Coffee Association (NCA).

The YIRGACHEFFE application was filed in the U.S. on 3/17/05 and matured to registration on 8/8/2006.

The HARAR application was also filed on 3/17/05 and is still being prosecuted. Looking through the prosecution history on TDR is interesting. It includes a 567 page (including exhibits) administrative response to a Letter of Protest.

The SIDAMO application seems to be having similar problems.

The article discusses why certification marks are not feasible for Ethiopia and its strategy for enforcement of its marks. Ethiopia worked with Light Years IP to develop its IP strategy.

Ethiopia’s plan is a graduating plan where the country hopes to enforce the trademarks as early as a critical stage is reached. An effective task of policing will be made possible through educating farmers on the value of the brands and the importance of maintaining coffee qualities and enforcing the integrity of the trademarks. At the initial stage, Ethiopia will not be ready to enforce the trademarks internally because there is no incentive in place for the farmers to be compelled to maintain the integrity of the coffee brands.

More info here in a November post from Marty Schwimmer. This post from Brand Autopsy also has a link to the Starbucks video response on YouTube.