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United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Uses #Swagger to Promote State Department Affairs

The term “swagger” is generally associated with style, confidence, sophistication, and togetherness.  In this regard, SWAGGER® Magazine (which owns a trademark in Canada for the mark “swagger”), brands itself as the premier modern men’s luxury and lifestyle publication, and is the “go to resource for the ambitious, successful and influential gentlemen of today.”  When editors at this magazine began noticing a new trend in social media searches for #swagger – apart from the typical results showing fast cars and expensive suits – they soon discovered that politics was a significant factor towards this shift.  And at the center of this movement was United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 In his first address to State department employees back in May 2018, Mr. Pompeo conveyed his desire of “getting back our swagger” in terms of the State’s affairs, policy-making decisions, and restoring diplomatic ties.  Mr. Pompeo also launched an Instagram account and throughout various posts, used “swagger” hashtags, phrases like the “department of swagger,” and photos of him “fist-bumping” State department employees.  In a recent post, Mr. Pompeo displayed four pictures – two of himself, as well as William Shakespeare and General George Patton – with the following message for his followers:  “Shakespeare was the first to use ‘swagger.’ Gen. Patton had his swagger stick. At @statedept, we’ve got some #swagger too.  It’s our confidence in America’s values.” 

 As a result of Mr. Pompeo’s attempt to penetrate pop culture by using “#swagger” when speaking in terms of diplomacy efforts advanced by the State, Swagger Magazine appears to be seizing the opportunity to expand its readership base.  In referencing some of Mr. Pompeo’s colleagues’ attire at the State department, Swagger editor-in-chief Steven Branco thought that “they all seem to have an oversize suit going on,” and that the magazine would be “working on a story that will provide more direction on what to wear in the office.”  In the meantime, Mr. Pompeo and his chief spokesperson, Heather Nauert, appear to be continuing their message of the United States Department of State being a “Department of Swagger [that] has hustle & heart,” as shown on a recent post on Twitter.


This past Monday, November 26, 2012 marked “Cyber Monday,” a recently established tradition identified with the Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, where consumers tend to escalate their online holiday shopping activities.

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Facebook’s historic initial public offering (“IPO”) on Friday was preceded by a patent portfolio “shopping spree” illustrative of the importance of intellectual property’s role in the U.S. economy.  According to news reports in the months leading up to its IPO, it appears that Facebook acquired well over 1,000 patents and patent applications outright, as well as licenses to many more patents, including large groups of such patents formerly owned by IBM [article] and AOL [article], among others.  Regardless of the strategy implications as to whether the acquisitions were primarily for defensive purposes, offensive purposes, or a relatively equal balance of each, the sheer magnitude of Facebook’s patent purchasing activity was exemplary of the dominant impact that intellectual property-intensive industries are having on the U.S. economy.

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Anti-piracy legislation in both the U.S. House (H.R. 3261, Stop Online Piracy Act, or “SOPA”) and Senate (S.968 PROTECT IP Act, or “PIPA”) has been abruptly halted following this past Wednesday’s worldwide online blackout protest involving numerous popular Internet sites, tweets, blogs, and the like (including WIKIPEDIA).  There has also been growing domestic concern over the potential extent of the federal government’s reach in its effort to address rogue overseas websites.

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 Beginning at 12:01 am on Saturday, June 13th, Facebook users will be allowed to register a custom username for their profile’s URL on a first-come first-serve basis. Currently, a Facebook user’s URL looks something like: “www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=5703348&ref=name.” However, from this point forward, users will be able to claim personal URL’s, such as “www.facebook.com/JohnSmith.”  Businesses and public figures with Facebook pages will also be permitted to create personal URL’s, though at this point Facebook has stated that it will only allow vanity URL’s on those pages with at least 1,000 “fans.”  Facebook, who is following in the footsteps of other “personal” websites such as MySpace, Twitter, and WordPress in allowing vanity URL’s seeks to avoid the Intellectual Property issues which have resulted from the same by limiting ULR registrations. See  http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=7761758 (St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s pending lawsuit against Twitter, claiming Cyber squatting; Right of Publicity; Trademark Infringement, and Trademark Dilution)
While Facebook states that the availability of URL’s will make it easier for friends, family, and co-workers to find users though search engines the benefits to users are few when compared to possible misuse of URL’s on Facebook.  Not surprisingly, many trademark owners are concerned that Facebook’s new service will create a new arena for trademark infringement and cyber squatting.  In light of the same, we recommend that any person or business without a Facebook profile before May 31 take advantage of some of the safeguards that Facebook has instituted. Specifically, since non-users are ineligible to receive a personalized URL during this initial offering, Facebook is requesting that business fill out this form, which will prevent individuals from registering your trademark as a Facebook URL. This is an important step to consider because once a URL is created, Facebook states that it cannot be changed, transferred, or sold. As always, if you any questions or concerns regarding this or other matters contact our office.
Adam Goldman contributed to this Blog entry.           


Now that we too are tweeting it is time we blog about Twitter. As some of you may know, the Pew Internet Project report recently found that 19 percent of all US Internet users are using Twitter or similar services to share social updates, a number which is an 8 percent increase from last year.  Not surprisingly the increase is mainly attributed to three groups: (1) young Internet users 18-44, (2) mobile users and (3) those who already utilize social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace.  The survey results were based on 2,253 phone responses from U.S. consumers 18 and older between Aug. 18 and Sept. 14. The 18-44 demographic can be broken down further. Specifically, usage nearly doubled from 19 percent in December 2008 to 37 percent in the 18 to 24 age group. Those 25-35 were not far behind they were up 20 points to 31 percent.  While users 35-44s went up 10 points to 19 percent. 

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Several months ago, Amazon unveiled its “Cloud Drive” – a web application which permits users with Amazon accounts to upload up to five gigabytes of music, free of charge, to Amazon’s server. Along with providing storage, the service also allows users to access, stream, and download their music from any location.  Given that Amazon is providing streaming access music, there is some questions as to whether Amazon’s decision to offer the service, without a license from music owners, may result in future legal disputes.  In this respect, Amazon has taken the position it is simply providing users with access to their own music files and, therefore, that no additional licenses are necessary.  In contrast to Amazon’s approach, Apple has actively negotiated licenses with music publishers in anticipation of it’s Fall 2011 launch of its “iCloud” service.   Music labels, for their part, are remaining silent on the issue as they wait to see how this “plays” out. 

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A federal lawsuit that involves one of the firm’s clients, Money4Gold Holdings, Inc., has drawn media attention, due to its implications on internet commerce and online marketing .  Among the issues raised by this lawsuit is whether companies that utilize affiliate marketing can be held responsible for alleged acts of infringement by individual affiliate marketers, also known as “publishers”.   

An article written by Vanessa Blum, a special reporter to the Daily Business Review, can be found here.