We discussed the issue of the immoral, scandalous or deceptive trademarks back in January when the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case involving the FUCT clothing line’s attempt to trademark its brand and products since 2012. The case (Iancu v. Brunetti) was obviously attention-grabbing with news reports soberly discussing the validity of curse words and explicit imagery, but the case also was a legal clash between the First Amendment right to free speech versus the United State Patent and Trademark Office’s 113-year-old policy and the Lanham Act, which prohibits immoral, explicit or scandalous trademarks.
Disney has faced lawsuits in the past regarding its movies allegedly stealing plot lines, dialogue, or likenesses. Despite these lawsuits, the company has a strong record of successfully defending itself. It was most recently in court when two writers claimed that Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl used ideas from a script the duo submitted to the company in 2000 for the popular 2003 movie. The writers identified suspicious similarities in the scripted dialogue, plot lines, and characters. Although the plot was substantially different, the writers claimed that the film used such ideas as:
General Motors (GM) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) usually are not at odds. However, the two organizations have found themselves in federal court over the use of new car-sharing service that both have rolled out.
These days artists and bands, old and new, can make good money licensing their music to ads, movies, and video games. But the real cash cow is touring and playing live. This is particularly the case for older bands whose fans are used to spending money on music and have the money to do so. This has led to the phenomena where bands reunite to play shows and make more money than they did in their heyday.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently released a report entitled “Progress and Potential: A profile of women inventors on U.S. patents.” The study examines trends and characteristics of among women inventors granted U.S. patents between 1976 and 2016. As with past reports on the subject of women inventors, it points out that women still make up a small minority of the patented inventors. It does highlight potential ways women can spur innovation and economic growth here in the U.S.
Many will fondly recall the glass-topped Mold-A-Rama machines found at museums, zoos and arcades. These machines inject melted plastic into two molds, which are then combined to create dolphins, dinosaurs and other toys while young customers eagerly watch. The family-owned Mold-A-Rama, based in Illinois, has now filed a trademark infringement suit against an Atlanta-based collector who refitted old machines with modern technology while using the Mold-A-Rama name.
Many will no doubt remember the geeky Carlton character from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. While actor Alfonso Ribeiro (who played Carlton) still enjoys the fruits of his labors thanks to residuals of a show that starred Will Smith, Ribeiro has now filed a suit against Fortnite creators Epic Games for copying the Carlton Dance. The actor also claims he is now in the process of copywriting the dance.
The Girl Scouts of America have filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against the Boy Scouts of America. The Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) allege that there is brand confusion now that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is admitting girls, which is a practice they began in 2017. Both organizations have traditionally been afforded distinct trademark protections under the law in view of the prior gender split, but now it appears BSA's widened admittance policies have upset that peaceful coexistence.
The family of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly lost their appeal Monday to block the use of the Schlafly name by Saint Louis Brewery, LLC, which brews under the Schlafly name.
President Trump will be remembered for many things, but his use of Twitter has been an effective and groundbreaking approach to connecting with constituents and the wider world. He recently took to Twitter to announce the imminent arrival of sanctions against Iran. He did this with his own parody of Game of Thrones: using the line "Sanctions are Coming" in a font similar to the one used by the acclaimed show. There was also a picture of him with an almost Dothraki-like scowl.