In our most recent practice area survey of the Above the Law readership, the most popular single response was “Intellectual Property.” Eighteen percent of survey respondents identified themselves as IP attorneys.
So many of you might be interested in the latest controversy to heat up the small-firm blogosphere. If you’re an IP lawyer, if you work at a small law firm, or if you’re a law student who enjoys intellectual-property hypotheticals, keep reading….
On February 15, Lawyerist published a post entitled Above the Law Goes Small Law, covering ATL’s latest foray into the world of small law firms. This post, which used the words “Small Law” in the title and text, did not sit well with PeerViews Inc., parent company of TechnoLawyer. PeerViews has a trademark registration for the term “SmallLaw,” which it uses for the TechnoLawyer newsletter on small firms.
Lawyerist wrote about the letter in a post entitled Should Lawyerist Cave to Trademark Bullying? (containing a reader poll on the legally relevant issue of confusion). The controversy was then picked up by Carolyn Elefant, one of the most prominent small-firm voices, in a post on MyShingle entitled Memo to SmallLaw: You Don’t Own Small Law! (As you might expect, Elefant was not a fan of the takedown notice sent by PeerViews.)
Readers, what do you think? Here are a few questions for consideration:
- Is there a legally significant difference between “Small Law” and “SmallLaw”? Are the terms confusingly similar?
- Did the original Lawyerist post give rise to a likelihood of confusion about the “SmallLaw” mark?
- Did the original Lawyerist post infringe on PeerViews’s registered trademark over “SmallLaw”?
We aren’t IP lawyers, so please feel free to spot additional issues and pose additional questions.
Please read the links collected below, and then debate the merits of the situation in the comments. Thanks.
UPDATE (6:45 PM): There’s additional coverage on the ABA Journal (including a statement from TechnoLawyer publisher Neil Squillante).
Should Lawyerist Cave to Trademark Bullying? (Poll) [Lawyerist]
Memo to SmallLaw: You Don’t Own Small Law! [MyShingle]
Trademark Registration: SmallLaw [Trademark Electronic Search System]
Above The Law Goes Small Law [Lawyerist]