Trademark Law

Over the weekend, a quaint little festival took place up in Hebron, Maine: the Redneck Olympics. Don’t ask me why this event happened in Maine. I didn’t think that rednecks were allowed to cross the Mason-Dixon line. The event featured typical redneck fare, including a greased watermelon haul, a wife-carrying race, toilet seat horseshoes, and bobbing for pig’s feet. Needless to say, it was a hit.

So naturally, when I heard that a lawsuit was brewing over Maine’s summer games, I wondered what could have happened. Was someone injured during a Dukes of Hazard-style car jump competition? Did someone get whiplash after one too many bucks on the mechanical bull? Was there an abundance of alcohol poisoning after the PBR case race?

But none of these things happened. No arrests were made, and the lone injury was a bee sting. So why is the organizer of the Redneck Olympics facing a lawsuit? Let the games begin, y’all….

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You’re tired of him. I’m tired of him. Even Juggalo is tired of him.

I get it. Believe me, if Liam Neeson’s second cousin’s dogwalker so much as had gotten a parking ticket this week, I would have snapped that juicy news item up for Fame Brief. But alas, as your faithful celebrity news correspondent, I must deliver to you yet another Charlie Sheen post. Last one, I promise.*

In an inevitable move to cash-in on his enhanced celebrity, Charlie applied for trademarks on 22 of his now-passé catchphrases, including Adonis DNA, Tiger Blood, Rock Star from Mars and other mania-induced gems. Luckily still available: SmallLaw Total Bitchin’ Rock Star from Mars….

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Chris Webby

As many of you figured out, the cease and desist letter from Chris Webby, claiming ownership of the hashtag #webby, was an April Fool’s hoax. This week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon was a hologram launched by the Webby Awards people. Here’s the official reveal.

Really, we thought a few more of our loyal readers would see through it. The firm that purportedly sent the letter, Baxter, Butler & Associates, doesn’t exist. This commenter got it. But I guess most commenters don’t fire up Google unless an attractive girl is involved.

You can see why the Webbys weren’t able to get a real law firm to participate in this prank. It might have been a joke today, but the first hashtag infringement suit is surely just around the corner.

Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m going to go back to drinking heavily now.

Earlier: Cease and Desist Letter of the Day: Who Owns Your Hashtag?

Chris Webby

If you enjoy the fact that a company called PeerViews apparently claims ownership of the term “Small Law,” you’re going to love this latest piece of IP ridiculousness.

Rapper Chris Webby has sent a cease and desist order to the Webby Awards. He wants them to stop using the hashtag, #webby.

I’m pretty sure that trademarking hashtags is one of the prerequisites for the Rapture.

And yes, of course Chris Webby made a video about his legal complaint…

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Bret Michaels

* It would probably be good if I had heard of more than a handful of the 34 most influential lawyers in the United States. Now this is going to turn into a Pokémon-esque game for me. [National Law Journal]

* Instead of fighting over App Stores, BigLaw, and SmallLaw, shouldn’t tech innovators be innovating instead? Because seriously, who fights over generic trademarks? That’s so SmallLaw. [New York Times]

* Bret Michaels suffered the horrors of the STD-laden Rock of Love Bus without injury, yet Broadway gave him a brain hemorrhage. Go figure. I guess every rose really does have its thorn. [Reuters]

* Speaking of buses, lawsuits seeking a total of $220 million have been filed in the wake of the World Wide Tours crash. On the bright side, the odds here will likely be better than playing the Mohegan Sun slots. [Sify News]

* A severely disabled mother was granted visitation time with her kids. If Terri Schiavo was alive today, she would have blinked with happiness after learning about this precedential decision. [Huffington Post]

* Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Oops! McDonald’s, you forgot the public masturbation — but I guess that’s the special sauce. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Some “real housewives” of New Jersey are suing Campbell’s over salty soup. Let’s get real here: New Jersey housewives don’t know how to cook. Using the microwave doesn’t count. [Star-Ledger]

Earlier this month, we presented you with a trademark law hypothetical. It was based on a dispute between Lawyerist and PeerViews Inc., parent company of TechnoLawyer, over the term “Small Law.” Lawyerist used the words “Small Law” in the title and text of this post — about Above the Law’s new offerings for small-firm readers, incidentally — and PeerViews objected.

In a letter by Kristen McCallion of Fish & Richardson, PeerViews expressed the concern that Lawyerist’s use of the words “Small Law” would diminish PeerViews’s goodwill in its “distinctive SmallLaw trademark.” PeerViews uses the mark for the TechnoLawyer newsletter on small firms.

We asked you, our readers, for your opinions on this matter. In the comments to our post, most of you sided with Lawyerist (but there were a handful of very vocal dissenters).

How will a judge or jury feel about this dispute? Because that’s who will get the next crack at this controversy. Lawyerist Media just filed a lawsuit against PeerViews in federal district court in Minnesota, seeking to invalidate the PeerViews trademarks on the terms “BigLaw” and “SmallLaw”….

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Under normal circumstances, Lady Gaga can do no wrong in my eyes. After all, she’s done a lot for me. When I was sad, she advised me to just dance, because it would be okay. When I was drunk, she reminded me that I can’t text with a drink in my hand. When I was in court, she made sure I didn’t let anyone read my poker face.

Today, however, Lady Gaga has let me down. Today, Lady Gaga is disobeying her own mantra, because instead of being a queen, she’s just being a drag. Today, my friends, Lady Gaga has threatened to sue a company that sells human breast milk ice cream.

Why does she want to sue, you ask?

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(Or: Another intellectual-property hypothetical.)

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….

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