Google and the Kingdom of Tonga

Google and the Kingdom of Tonga

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about Google’s attempt to register the word GLASS (in a stylized manner) as a trademark for its “Google Glass” product. The article, which inaccurately reports that Google has “successfully trademarked the term ‘Google Glass'” (whatever that means … the GOOGLE GLASS application has been opposed by multiple parties), notes some of the hurdles Google faces in having the GLASS application approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). But I’m not interested in that. This is one case where – at least for me anyway – a procedural matter is more interesting than the substantive issues. Continue reading

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“It’s Gone Forever”: Was the FLAPPY BIRD Trademark Abandoned?

“It’s Gone Forever”: Was the FLAPPY BIRD Trademark Abandoned?

Dong Nguyen, an app developer in Hanoi, Vietnam, claims to have created the FLAPPY BIRD gaming app in just two or three days of programming. The game eventually became the #1 free iPhone and Android app, earning an estimated $50,000 per day from in-app advertising. This was all, apparently, too much for Dong. So he removed the game from app stores. Here’s his tweet announcing that decision:

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Facebook’s PAPER, King’s CANDY and App Store Confusion

Facebook’s PAPER, King’s CANDY and App Store Confusion

On January 30, 2014, Facebook announced that it would release a new mobile social news-reading and story-sharing app called PAPER. A few days later, amid hype and generally positive press, the app was launched on Apple’s iTunes store. That same day, The New York Times posted an article in its Bits Blog titled “Makers of Paper App Ask Facebook to Change Its New App Name” — here’s the intro:

If you go to Google and type in the word “paper,” the top result doesn’t have anything to do with traditional pulpy vellum. Instead, it links to the well-known app Paper, which allows you to sketch on your iPad just as you can in a traditional notebook.

But that might not be the case for long. Last week Facebook announced a new product that it plans to release on Monday called … wait for it … Paper.

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Tweets in Ads and Trademark Law

Tweets in Ads and Trademark Law

The recent A.O. Scott “tweet in ad” affair is the stuff that dreams are made of (a film reference seemed appropriate) … law school professor dreams that is. Like a law school essay exam, the fact pattern is good issue spotting stuff.

For the uninitiated, I suggest starting here, then read The New York Times’ public editor’s take, and finally A.O. Scott’s published response.

Here’s the ad – in all its white space glory:

AO SCOTT AD

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In re Banksy, Pseudonyms and the USPTO (Better Out Than In)

In re Banksy, Pseudonyms and the USPTO (Better Out Than In)

The artist Banksy spent the entire month of October 2013 in “residence” in New York City using all 5 boroughs as a personal platform for his brand of street art and political commentary. He churned out a work a day and documented his efforts on a website <Banksyny.com> (since taken down and re-directed) and Instagram account (still active). The New York exhibitions were collectively titled “Better Out Than In” and it was widely covered by the media.

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Beastie Boys v. GoldieBlox: Fair Use? … How About a Fair Shake

Beastie Boys v. GoldieBlox: Fair Use? … How About a Fair Shake

By now, we’ve all seen the Ad … three perfectly cute multi-ethnic girls and their contraption (known as a “Rube Goldberg” machine – is that a generic term? – sorry, I digress) that is as long as a song … a 2:06 song (or commercial) which parodies the Beastie Boy’s “Girls,” which itself could be categorized as satire.

Aren’t those girls adorable?  What an empowering message!  And that tune is so damn catchy.

The Beastie Boys never had a chance.

And that’s exactly how GoldieBlox wanted it.

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Trademarkia … How Do You Justify That?

Trademarkia … How Do You Justify That?

Morris Turek, a trademark attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, recently posted an article on his blog at “YourTrademarkAttorney.com” (that’s his “Your” not my “Your” and not necessarily your “Your”) reporting on his “experiment” with the Legal Force Trademarkia (or “Trademarkia”) search engine.

The gist … if a search does not cover a prior USPTO filing for an identical mark or encompass identical terms then Trademarkia will prompt you to “Apply for it Now” – here’s a screenshot of the search result for NIKE SHOES:

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 9.18.09 PM

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