Thursday, April 30, 2009

Names Will Never Hurt Me

Good afternoon!

It's a wonderful spring day here in New York City. That means that there is a lot of strange intellectual property and entertainment law issues popping up. Let's take a look at a few of them.

If your business in the United Arab Emirates, "Dubai" can no longer be a part of the trademark. This is the first time I heard about a certain place being banned as a trademark. My guess is that there are too many companies with "Dubai" in the mark, rendering it almost meaningless as a trademark. This reminds me of two issues with trademark law here in the United States: 1) Having the name of a place in a trademark is difficult to register and 2) There are a few words or phrases that are not allowed to be a part of any trademark in the United States.

1) Having the name of a geographic location in an American trademark paints you into a corner. The first corner is if the goods/services come from that location - then the mark becomes descriptive of the goods/services. The second corner is if the goods/services do not come from that location - then the mark is misleading. If a client comes to me with a mark that has a geographic location, then I have to counsel that client accordingly.

2) There are some explicit words that cannot be used in a trademark. Today, that can be found as 36 U.S.C. ยง220501, which bans the use of the word the word "OLYMPIC" and other related words the United States Olympic Committee "owns" in non-USOC trademarks. Also, let me quote 15 U.S.C. ยง1052 here for other words that cannot be used in a trademark. A mark cannot "[consist] of or [comprise] immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter...." So, if a mark has one of the seven words you cannot say on television, it will not get far in the registration process.

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Rapper Lil 'Wayne has been sued for using a song sample in one of his songs. Now, he is trying to go after the producer of the song for indemnification of those royalties and damages due to the infringement. He seems to have this problem again and again and it makes me wonder why nobody is making the clearances more quickly.

It is a simple process (though the paperwork does get to be plentiful when there are multiple samples that an artist has on an album), so I do not understand why those managing his music and his career cannot get the clearances once the recordings are made.


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When registering an Internet domain name, if a trademark is to be used, the domain name must be registered in "good faith." I am fairly sure that the owner of
goldmansachs666.com is not a domain name in good faith.

If this situation does not fit into the domain names rules, then I certainly believe it falls under trademark dilution, which I have discussed before in this blog.

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