In a recent blog post, we discussed The Hobbit producers’ trademark dispute with Global Asylum, the makers of the upcoming mockbuster movie “Age of the Hobbits”. The Hobbit producers claim that Asylum’s reference to hobbits in their movie title infringes rights under a trademark registration. Asylum countered claiming that the term hobbits refers to a recently discovered human sub-species and as such, they are entitled to use the term under the legal doctrine of fair use. In an effort to bolster their infringement position, The Hobbit producers have commissioned an interesting study aimed at showing a likelihood of confusion, which is one of the legal requirements to establish trademark infringement. (For more details on the story, see The Hollywood Reporter article by clicking here. story here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/hobbit-trademark-lawsuit-producers-enlist-394685).
We recently posted an article discussing the University of Alabama’s efforts to enforce their trademark registrations. The story involved a small bakery that makes cookies using the University’s “A” logo. The University of Alabama contracts with Collegiate Licensing Co. to police their trademark portfolio. Collegiate recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to this small bakery in Northport, Alabama. The letter ordered the bakery to stop selling products that contained the University’s trademarks. The University of Alabama has a trademark registration covering its “A” logo.
The first step to protect your brand is to obtain trademark protection by registering a trademark, but this is just the first step of an ongoing process. After acquiring a trademark registration, you must enforce it or risk infringers diluting your brand equity or unjustly profiting from it. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will not enforce your trademark registration for you. You must actively enforce your rights against infringers. A recent story posted by the San Francisco Chronicle highlights the efforts of the University of Alabama to enforce their own trademark rights.)
Tim Tebow is many things. He is an athlete, an advocate, a Heisman trophy winner, and now it looks like he will be a trademark registration owner. A trademark application for the term “Tebowingg” recently survived the 30 day opposition period provided after a trademark publishes. The trademark application should proceed to registration, which will entitle XV Enterprises, a company solely owned by Tim Tebow, to the exclusive rights to use the mark “Tebowing” in commerce in connection with the sale of hats, shirts, and t-shirts.
When starting a business, the business owner dreams of becoming a success story. This requires a lot of concentration, commitment, hard work and of course, the right assets. As your new business gains momentum, you might face stiff competition from rivals who may even copy your ideas and use them to compete against you. This can affect customer loyalty and ultimately your profitability. Protecting your investment of time, money the proverbial “blood, sweat, and tears” is paramount. Investing in your long term success requires the services of trademark attorneys.
E-commerce investors, web developers, and bloggers should be aware of the trademark laws that regulate their field of practice. By gaining knowledge of online trademark laws, an investor will be in a better position to make smart decisions regarding trademark registration, and avoid potential legal scuffles. These laws not only guide Internet investors from infringing on other people’s domains but also give guidance on what actions you should take if someone infringes upon your registered trademark. The registration, trafficking in, and use of another party’s domain name or trademark in bad-faith with the intent of making a profit is legally referred to as cyber-squatting. Online trademark owners attain protection and counsel from the Anti-cyber-squatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). Some of the significant principles of this act include:
Developing your product or an idea for service and securing funding might seem like a piece of cake when compared with registering a trademark. It is painfully easy to unintentionally steal someone’s intellectual property if you do not follow all of the necessary steps to prevent such an oversight. Moreover, without support, a business owner can become the victim of theft too easily.
The hugely successful movie franchise, The Lord of the Rings, picks up again when director Peter Jackson releases The Hobbit on December 14th, 2012. The profitability of the movies and all things related to Middle Earth are not lost on others looking to ride the momentum created by the new release. Global Asylum is a movie production company that specializes in “mockbusters”, low-budget movies that have similar titles and storylines to blockbuster movies and are released around the same time. This time around, Global Asylum intends to cash in on The Hobbit frenzy by releasing a film entitled Age of the Hobbits, three days before the release of the Jackson film (see story). So what’s the deal with these mockbusters? Is this fair game or foul play? Trademark law may be the deciding voice.
Shortly after singer Beyoncé gave birth to daughter Blue Ivy Carter in January, the new mother and father, rapper Jay-Z, did something most parents never do. They filed a trademark application on the name of their child. When the parents are two of the most successful musicians on the planet, it seems that even the birth of their first child doesn’t slow down business. It may seem like a smart thing to do, because other people might try to beat them to the trademark office to potentially use the mark as leverage. For example, third parties might try to use the mark in ways that negatively affect their brand or try to sell the mark to them at an exorbitant price. News reports have come out suggesting that they have lost their battle over the trademark. (Click here to see Rolling Stone article.) While it’s true that Beyoncé and Jay-Z will not have have exclusive rights to use the term Blue Ivy, they haven’t lost their rights all together. The couple’s trademark application is still pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office and recently published for opposition. (Click here to see Notice of Publication from the USPTO.) So long as there is no one with senior rights to the same mark for the same or similar goods, their trademark registration application should survive the opposition period.