China Trademark Dispute with Apple: We Own the iPad Trademark

Trademark lawyers are known to be zealous advocates for their owners marks.  But Apple’s lawyers will not quit by appealing the court ruling in China that rejected its ownership of the iPad trademark in that country.  Last month, the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province ruled that a local company, Proview International actually owns the trademark in China.  According to Apple, they bought the rights to the name legally from a UK-based company known as I.P. Applications.  I.P. Applications had previously purchased the mark from a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan.  But the Chinese court ruled that the Proview subsidiary did not have adequate rights to sell the trademark.  Proview’s main Shenzhen-based company did not attend any of the meetings or negotiations to sell the trademark.

Apple is asking for 4 million yuan, or $636,204, from Proview, in addition to the transfer of the name.  Proview has filed two trademark infringement lawsuits against Apple demanding that they cease using the iPad name.

SOPA Blackout Gathers Momentum, Includes Wikipedia

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales

If you’re planning on using Wikipedia this Wednesday, January 18th, you may be disappointed.  The web site is strongly considering a 12 hour blackout, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or “SOPA.”  Other major sites, most notably Reddit.com have already announced blackouts that day.  According to a statement by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on a recent Wiki discussion board:

“I’m all in favor of it, and I think it would be great if we could act quickly to coordinate with Reddit. I’d like to talk to our government affairs advisor to see if they agree on this as useful timing, but assuming that’s a green light, I think that matching what Reddit does (but in our own way of course) per the emerging consensus on how to do it, is a good idea.”

The blackout coincides with the January 18th reconvening of congressional hearings regarding the controversial bill.  SOPA was proposed a few months ago as a way to stop cyber piracy of copyrighted works, and is supported by major members of the fashion, motion picture, and recording industries.  But opponents of the bill, such as Google, Youtube, Wikipedia and Facebook say it could have major unintended side effects.  Under the bill, Web sites with copyright-infringing content can effectively be shut down, regardless of where the sites are hosted, or whether the content is user-generated. 

According to Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney Michael Cohen, the bill could alter the internet landscape in major and potentially unforeseen ways.

“For better or worse, this bill will change the web.  This is the first internet legislation that gives real power to copyright holders,” says Mr. Cohen.  “In the future, the history of the internet might be divided into two phases, before SOPA and after SOPA.”

The blackout has been snowballing since Reddit.com first announced its blackout a few days ago.  Although the extent of the blackout is unknown, sites like Google (which may post a censored-out logo), Twitter, and even Facebook are quickly discussing their options.

Rose Bowl Copyright Infringement

Copyright litigation can be tricky without an attorney.  Take, for example, the case of David Bartholomew, a man who claims he is the original designer of the Rose Bowl and Parade logo.  Bartholomew claims he came up with the logo while attending school at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in 1977.  Bartholomew claims that he made the design and gave it to the tournament’s staff, who released it a few years later as the work of a different student, Susan Karasic.  Karasic vehemently denies any of this, and says that she has various sketchbook drawings, showing the evolution of the design.

He’s not a football fan, so Bartholomew says he didn’t notice the logo until just a few years ago, and is now trying to collect damages for some 30 years of the logo’s use.  Since he doesn’t have an attorney, it’s been hard for him to argue the rolling statute of limitations on copyrights, as well as other tricky copyright nuances.  His case has been dismissed and appealed many times since 2007, and has cost him over $14,000, according to last week’s lengthy article in the L.A. Times.

Whether or not his claim is legitimate, he sums up the feeling of those who have suffered intellectual property theft pretty well:  “What happened was a booby trap. It’s like somebody broke into my house and stole my property.”

 

Young Buck Trademark Bankruptcy

What’s the real value of intellectual property?  Consider the recent case of rapper David Brown, aka “Young Buck.”  The Tennessean recently reported that Buck is has fallen on some rough times, and is involved in a bankruptcy case.  Buck owes money for child support, taxes, and a reported $10 million to his current label – 50 Cent’s G-Unit records.   If the judge in the case approves a bankruptcy liquidation, the most valuable piece of property he sta

nds to lose is his trademarked name.
Buck wants to sign with Cash Money Records, and claims that if signed, he could pay his debts honorably.  But the problem for Buck is that if he loses the right to “Young Buck,” he would probably not be signed, as Cash Money would have to market a no-namer instead of a multi-platinum star.

According to The Tennessean:  “My name, Young Buck, has been with me since I was 12, 13 years old.  At the end of the day, it’s ridiculous. My name wasn’t given to me by G-Unit Records. They didn’t name me Young Buck. My mother calls me Young Buck.”  Although this is may be true, Young Buck will have to anticipate that the opposing side will claim that his “name” is a really a just trademark, and that he will no longer be able to use the term “Young Buck” in connection with his goods or services, in his case as a performing artist.  Don’t worry Young Buck, I’m sure the opposing side will not attempt to get an injunction against your mother from calling you “Young Buck.”
Kcup patent

Patents and the Stock Market

Time and again I am reminded what an important asset patents can be to company’s growth or continued existence. For example, I was reading an article in the Motley Fool today and their review of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the owners of the “K-Cup” for coffee. The author quoted:

“My Foolish colleague Rick Munarriz says he’ll be buying shares of Green Mountain by week’s end because the Keurig machine remains popular, the patent expiration battle is overblown, and the stock is cheap. I think what he’s doing amounts to balancing a steaming cup of coffee in his lap. The K-cup is popular because it’s patent protected; that expires next year.”
In many cases, the existence or nonexistence of a single patent can determine the faith of a company, especially in a crowded market with many competitors waiting to get a piece of the pie that you created.

 

Grand Theft Auto Trademark

Grand Theft Auto 5 Trademark Infringement with Speedo?

With Grand Theft Auto 5’s release all gamers are excited.  But who would of thought that GTA and Speedo would get into a trademark spat?  One of the most highly anticipated video games of the year, Grand Theft Auto 5, recently released an online trailer. The trailer spread like wildfire, and one apparent detail of the new game may cause a big headache for Rockstar Games, the maker of the iconic and very popular racing game. That detail is the word “Speedophile” printed on the side of a Jetski, looking something like a logo.

The word Speedophile may have a simply descriptive meaning in urban slang terms (someone who likes going really fast). However, it’s possible that the swimwear manufacturer, Speedo could take issue with this particular logo blazened on the side of a Jetski. The main problem is that in this image, the first part of the word “Speedo” is a different colored font than “phile”. The result is that it looks like “Speedo” is somehow referenced. If the game is released with this detail (and it looks likely that it will be), Rockstar Games may get promptly slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit.

And, given that Speedo has just shut down a porn site in Australia that featured their logo on a few pairs of swimwear, it seems they are keeping a sharp lookout for trademark infringers.

GTL Fuel

GTL Trademark Lawsuit by The Situation

Jersey Shore star Mike Sorrentino (aka The Situation) is making sure he stays on top.  Of his trademarks, that is.  Has sued, in the Florida Southern District Court, a newcomer who wants to use Sorrentino’s “GTL” brand to market lifestyle products reminiscent of Jersey Shore style and fashion.  MyGTLFuel.com is aimed toward viewers and fans of Jersey Shore, selling Energy Shots, Tanning Lotion and the like.  So does the owner, Dana Valentino, actually have any trademark rights that are superior to The Situation?  Or is he simply trying to cash in on the ‘Guido’ trend?  GTL Fuel, LLC which we believe is owned by Valentino, actually obtained a federal trademark registration for “GTF Fuel” claiming a first use of January 14, 2011. On the other hand The Situation has been diligent and has filed several trademarks, many of them including the term “GTL”.  According to the complaint, The Situation’s company, MPS Entertainments, Inc. claims its first use of GTL dates back to 2009 in connection with a variety of goods.  Also according to the Complaint the Situation alleges that a representative of Valentino approached the Situation for a license deal which did not materialize.  Due to the huge popularity of Jersey Shore, it’s not a bad business idea lately, but without any trademark protection Valentino’s site could be very short lived.  So will The Situation be able to prove his superior use?  We will see.  FYI, if you were wondering, according to The Situation’s camp, GTL stands for “Gym, Tan, Laundry” whereas, Valentino’s website says its stands for “Get The Lifestyle.”
ICANN Logo

Opt Out “.xxx” Domain Name..You Have Until October 28

As part of its list of new “Sponsored Top-Level Domain” names, or sTLD’s the suffix .xxx was created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) back in March. This gave adult industry companies the option to get a domain name that ends in .xxx.

But what about companies that don’t want a .xxx web site created, using their trademark or name? ICANN is offering a “sunrise period” to companies, that allows them, for a limited time, to opt out of ever having a .xxx version of themselves online. The deadline to opt out is October 28, 2011. After that deadline, the name of any company that has not opted out will be fair game for a .xxx web site. Unfortunately for anyone wishing to opt out, there is a fee to do so. ICANN will charge between $300 and $350 to opt out of the .xxx domain names.
After the sunrise period ends, companies will have to rely on the more traditional methods of domain name dispute resolution, the main one being the UDRP, or Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. This option requires litigation and will no doubt cost companies a lot more in the long run than the sunrise fees.

Trademark Infringement of Youngblood Timepieces

Fossil Watches was served a trade dress and trademark infringement lawsuit Monday, courtesy of Youngblood Timepieces, a newcomer to the fashion watch industry. Taking it one step further, the suit also named several high profile retailers as co-defendants. Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sears, Urban Outfitters, and Amazon.com were all named. The case is No. 11-cv-8175 in U.S. District Court for the district of Central California.

Youngblood Co Founder Patrick Martin said, when asked about the suit: “It is our intention to settle this matter with as little complication to all parties involved as possible. At the same time, we will not allow Fossil Inc. to continue to infringe on our brand name and image. Ourlegal team is pursuing all avenues of legal action available to us.”

Although Younblood has only been around since 2007, several high profile celebrities have been wearing the watches, and undoubtedly the major names in fashion watches have been watching. According to Youngblood, they have been watching a bit too closely.