Wednesday, 31 March 2010 19:48

URBAN DICTIONARY SUED FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

Written by

A Fort Lauderdale company that claims ownership of trademark rights for the term "MEANAGER" in connection with clothing has sued Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary of slang words and phrases, and another Defendant, for allegedly selling competing goods that use the term "MEANAGER".   The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and is pending before Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno. 

The complaint alleges that Urban Dictionary is infringing the Florida company's trademark by using the term "MEANAGER" on articles that it sells through its website.  According to the complaint, Urban Dictionary sells articles that feature the slang words and phrases that appear on its website, and takes issue with the sale of articles bearing the term "MEANAGER".  The term has three definitions on the web site, one as a slang phrase for a mean boss, i.e. a "MEANAGER" (as a play on words for Manager); and the other two relating to teenagers that exhibit hurtful behavior (a play on words for the terms Mean and Teenager).  According to Wikipedia, another online dictionary, Urban Dictionary currently has 4.79 million definitions on its website. 

The Florida company alleges that it has promoted its mark through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn.  With the ever increasing amount of business that is done through the internet, it is no surprise that cases such as these are being filed a more rapid rate.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010 19:48

GOOGLE'S EUROPEAN VACATION

Written by

In a decision released earlier today, the European Court of Justice held that Google was not liable for the sale of AdWords to a retailer who, in turn, used the trademarked keywords in connection with the sale of counterfeit goods. The decision stemmed from Google's nearly five-year old appeal of a French decision in favor of Louis Vitton. Pursuant to the Court's holding, Google is not responsible for investigating the authenticity of a retailer's goods prior to selling its keywords. Nevertheless, with an eye toward future litigation, the Court did call for more transparency from companies such as Google with respect to the identity of sellers purchasing and using the trademarked keywords.

Read the decision here.

Saturday, 23 March 2013 19:33

THE POWER OF A DESIGN PATENT

Written by

Everyone has experienced an auto accident of some form, be it a fender-bender or a more severe impact. While more forceful impacts can damage structural and/or functional components of a vehicle, even low-speed impacts can cause cosmetic damage that can be costly to replace.

So the next time you find yourself in a body shop pondering the cost of replacing cosmetic auto parts, consider this: many automobile body parts are patented. Companies in the auto industry have begun procuring design patents on the ornamental design of certain auto parts, including fenders, grilles, and quarter panels. This has led to some recent debate, since these design patents allow the manufacturers control over the original part, as well as replacement parts having the same patented design.  

The Statute of Anne, widely considered the world’s first copyright statute and the precursor to modern copyright law, went into effect on April 10, 1710, thus making this year (2010) the "tricentennial of copyright law."

The Statute of Anne was formally entitled "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of Such Copies, During the Times therein Mentioned" and was enacted in the United Kingdom during the reign of its namesake, Queen Anne.

Thursday, 11 March 2010 19:31

HOW FAR CAN YOUR LOGO GO IN FLORIDA?

Written by
Currently in Tallahassee, State Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, who is the chairman of the transportation budget committee, is drafting legislation that may allow your logo to go further than ever before in Florida. Specifically, the legislation would allow corporations to sponsor license plates and place their trademarks on the same.  The proposed legislation is being drafted to generate funds for the state and would use some of the proceeds received to give drivers who purchase the corporate tags a discount on annual registration fees. 
 
It is rumored that the legislation is being modeled after legislation passed in Texas in 2009 which began by featuring the RE/MAX logo and slogan.  It is also rumored that Disney is interested in being the first to put their trademarks on Florida license plates. Whether the legislation is passed this session, the mere consideration evidences the value of trademarks and the need to adequately protect the same.
Friday, 05 March 2010 19:19

CUBA LIBRE?

Written by
Days after the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the breath of the United States Embargo against Cuba is presently before Congress. What may surprise you, however, is that the issue is being raised by Section 211 (a)(2) of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1998, which is not about human rights, but rather about trademarks. Specifically, Section 211 is about whom can use trademarks and is a product of the Havana Club controversy. And while the issue has been litigated for years and in several countries, Section 211 is designed to protect trademarks that belonged to businesses whose assets were confiscated by the Cuban government after the communist revolution of 1959 and establishes that no court in the United States may recognize any claim regarding trademarks and commercial names related to properties confiscated by the Cuban government. The change was challenged by the European Union and ultimately criticized by the World Trade Organization when it was first introduced. 
 
The present debate however, given the political climate may call into question the US Embargo and the purpose of its Intellectual Property carve out and as such promises to be a historic one. To read more click here.
This week Yelp! Inc. the online review site was served with a class action lawsuit in California for Violations of California’s Unfair Competition Statute. The complaint filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that that Yelp! manipulates reviews, which have a direct impact on business ratings, and then offers to remove them if the business purchases a monthly advertising subscription. The Plaintiff, Cats and Dogs Corp, provides veterinary services in Long Beach California and claims that it was extorted by Yelp!
 
Yelp!, a San Francisco based operation which was founded in 2004, recently walked away from Google’s $550 million dollar offer to purchase.  These allegations however strike to the heart of Yelp! Business model which claims to provide “real people and real reviews.”  To date, Yelp's response to the complaint has been a statement denying the allegations.
Sunday, 12 December 2010 19:17

WARNER MUSIC: A LONE ISLAND IN THE STREAM

Written by

Warner Music Group has announced that it will stop licensing its music to streaming services – such as Last.fm and Pandora -- that provide consumers with free, instant, and legal access to millions of songs. Generally speaking, music streaming services function like radio stations – with some, like Pandora, designed to 'guess' the musical tastes of a specific consumer and tailor suggestions based on these findings. Such services, therefore, provide new artists --and even musical genres -- with exposure to new consumers.  Nevertheless, while streaming services do pay royalties for each song played the royalties are significantly less than those a company such as Warner will earn through paid downloads.  Moreover, while some consumers may go on to purchase digital copies of favorite songs, it's unclear what proportion are simply free-riding on these service.

Warner, therefore, has come to the conclusion that "free streaming services are clearly not positive for the industry" and decided to focus on providing digital access to music by way of paid subscription services.   However, Warner’s decision to focus on paid subscription services – none of which have yet to prove popular among consumers – has been criticized as short-sighted and oblivious to the desires of consumers that have become accustomed to free and subsidized music services.  In this new landscape, many believe that any service stopping short of full-on piracy should be viewed as a positive by music labels.  This view appears to be held by several major industry players such as the senior VP of Universal Music Group who has gone on record as stating that such free services provide “a very sustainable financial model.”

It remains to be seen whether Warner’s move – which will cut access to popular artists such as REM and Muse – will negatively affect the future of music streaming services. However, as noted by the head of UK’s Music Manager’s Forum, what is clear is that “anything that's going backwards is denying where the world's going.”