Trump’s Trademark Issues

How long has Trump been planning this? Apparently Mr. Trump decided he liked the sound of "Make America Great Again" as  far back as 2012, when he first filed an application for the phrase with the Trademark Office (Serial 85783371).   However, in the application he seems to be  anticipating using it for a Political Action Committee, rather than for his own candidacy. The required list of services he listed were as follows: Political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues. (IC 035) Fundraising in the field of politics. (CIC 036) However he was apparently not ready to use it back then, as he did not finalize the registration until earlier this year - about a month before he formally announced. Trademark Issue #1 Subsequently, on August 13th two new filings  (86724115 , 86724213) were made by him for the phrase and include an exhaustive list of such items as   Bumper stickers; decorative decals for vehicle windows; stickers; advertising signs of papers; advertising signs of cardboard; placards and banners...
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Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Ten Cute Cat Trademarks

Because cats make everything more entertaining.  (search using (03.01.04)[DD]  and  (2)[MD]).  A sample of 10 recent applications for cat related trademarks for your viewing pleasure. 1.  Content Kitty (such a peaceful face)   2.  Lethal Kitty (HiYA!!)   3.  Hello Kitty (one of many recently filed applications)   4. Butt Kitty (Ok -  this one creeps me out a little)   5. Knitted Kitty (this one is for "knitted underwear" -'nuff said -cool design)   6. Hipster Kitty (jeez - everyone knows cats prefer the chevron)   7. Creepy Kitty (with dog overlord)   8. Masked Kitty (what possible advantage would a cat have trying to pretend he's a dog?)   9. Anthropomorphic Kitty (why no shoes on the hands??)   10.  Plain old Cute Kitty (just because)   ...
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Color-only Trademarks

What do UPS, Tiffany and Co., and Owens Corning have in common?  The mere sight of the color of their product (Pullman Brown, Robin's Egg Blue, and Pink) brings to mind who they are without ever having to place a logo or word on their products.   These marks demonstrate how real people shop for goods and services and how trademarks are about providing a potential consumer resources to identify the source of the goods and services they are purchasing - while preventing others from using those identifiers to create consumer confusion. Color Trademarks The leading case involving color as a trademark is  Qualitex Co. V. Jacobson Prods. Co. (514 U.S. 159, 161, 163, 115 S. Ct. 1300, 131 L.Ed. 2d 248 (1995)), which noted that a color can sometimes serve as a trademark by itself  “when that color has attained ‘secondary meaning’ and therefore identifies and distinguishes a particular brand (and thus indicates its ‘source’).”   The Court went on to provide that...
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I have a great idea for a tee-shirt!!!

Tee-Shirt Trademarks I have a great idea for a tee-shirt - can I register it as a trademark??? Short answer - probably not.  The main issue with whether a slogan or word  operates as trademark is how it is used.   This is especially true of tee-shirts. If the mark / slogan is just printed on a shirt – no protection – the Trademark Office deems that as being “merely ornamental” (there is an exception when the mark is also used for other products or business name).  However if the mark / slogan is also used to identify the tee-shirt company, it may serve as a trademark and be registered (i.e. it is a “source identifier”) – the only caveat is that you would need to show it being used in that manner rather than just emblazoned on the front.  Showing the mark this way can be done be showing the phrase on things like the name of an online store, packaging, an inside-tag,...
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You Own Devices Act proposed

You Own Devices Act Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) recently reintroduced to committee H.R.862, You Own Devices Act (YODA), to amend title 17, United States Code.  If enacted, the bill will provide that the first sale doctrine applies to any computer program that enables a machine or other product to operate.  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr5586/text  Expect opposition to come from...
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Copyright Office Releases Comprehensive Music Licensing Study

LOC NewsNet Issue 567 February 5, 2015 Copyright Office Releases Comprehensive Music Licensing Study The U.S. Copyright Office has released a comprehensive study, “Copyright and the Music Marketplace,” detailing the aging music licensing framework as well as the ever-evolving needs of those who create and invest in music in the twenty-first century. In addition to providing an exhaustive review of the existing system, the report makes a number of recommendations that would bring both clarity and relief to songwriters, artists, publishers, record labels, and digital delivery services. “Few would dispute that music is culturally essential and economically important to the world we live in,” said Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights, “but the reality is that both music creators and the innovators who support them are increasingly doing business in legal quicksand. As this report makes clear, this state of affairs neither furthers the copyright law nor befits a nation as creative as the United States.” There is broad consensus across the music industry on...
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Copyright Office Announces Public Roundtable Discussions for Music Licensing Study

From the United States Copyright Office NewsNet 542 May 5, 2014 The U.S. Copyright Office will hold a series of public roundtables to gather input for its music licensing study. The roundtables will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on June 4 and 5, 2014, in Los Angeles, California, on June 16 and 17, 2014, and in New York, New York, on June 23 and 24, 2014. The roundtables will offer an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the music licensing issues set forth in the Notice of Inquiry issued by the Office on March 17, 2014. Those seeking to participate in the roundtables should complete and submit the online form. Requests to participate must be received by the Copyright Office by May 20, 2014....
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Pied Piper’s Trademark Problems

On a recent episode of HBO's new show Silicon Valley, the hapless coders find themselves in a bind when they realize that the "placeholder" company name "Pied Piper, Inc." was already in use by Pied Piper Irrigation, another California company. The problem is that they received a check from a venture capitalist in the name of the Pied Piper Inc. - humorous situations then ensue as the protagonist tries solve the problem - and then, I began ranting at the television to the chagrin of my wife. Why, you might ask, does this drive me crazy? Not because it is a common and overused plot point, but more notable because it gets both state registration laws and trademark laws completely wrong by muddling the laws of business registrations and trademarks. Someone already registered my business' trade name - what do I? A trade name is the name used to identify the business. States have varying restrictions on...
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The Vivian Maier Dilemma

Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was a nanny living in Chicago and New York during the 50's and 60's.  She was also a photographer whose work involved sizable numbers of photos taken of street scenes.  She was not publicly recognized as an artist until after her death and upon the discovery/purchase of her storage locker which contained over 150,000 unprinted negative, hundreds of rolls of un-developed rolls, along with a few thousand that had  been printed (leaving open the question of what she wanted produced).  Subsequently, the negatives were acquired by a handful of entrepreneurs, and select works are now being exhibited and sold as prints.  What is left out of this story is that she died largely without funds of her own, and that she died without any heirs.   The storage locker was sold because no one paid the storage fees.  So who owns the copyright in these photos? Vivian died in Illinois a couple...
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Authors Guild v. Google

After eight years of a trail and the appeals process, on Nov. 14, 2013, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Denny Chin, dismissed a suit by the Author's Guild against Google for its’ digital scanning project where they began scanning millions of books and making snippets (not full books) available in its search results. His full opinion can be read here. The Author’s Guild has filed an appeal. The Author's Guild claim is that this scanning alone violates those authors’ copyright. Google's defense -- the one that Judge Chin agreed with -- was that it fell within the scope of Fair Use. Chin says in his opinion that, "...Google Books provide significant public benefits." Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code determines the nature of Fair Use. Fair Use allows for the use of copyrighted material for a variety of purposes -- education, criticism, research, etc. The most relevant portion of the criterion to be met in this case was...
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