Sunday, December 27, 2020

Taking Names

As long as a former President is deceased, and also his widow (if applicable), the President's name can be trademarked as long as it is not a descriptive trademark.  

The Lanham Act is going to have to be rewritten in the next few years. Why?  Because the pronouns are outdated, as are some of the nouns. A future President might have a widower (rather than a widow).

Legal blogger Dorna Mohaghegh, representing the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz PC tells the topical trademark and copyright law-related emerging story of conflict between a genuine historical project named after President Lincoln, and what I would call a petard "project" for political fundraising.

Lexology link:

IP and Media Law Link: 

For those who may not know, a petard was an unreliable salt petre bomb  (basically a fertilizer bomb) used in the middle ages, most famously mentioned by Shakespeare in the context of army corps of engineers specialists blown sky high while attempting to undermine a beseiged city wall and thus being "hoist by their own petard".  Hamlet Act 3 Scene 4.

It's an interesting analysis of two groups both wanting to trademark "The Lincoln Project", and of some little known trademark trivia. 

For those considering a trademark, the cost of a trademark goes up in January 2021.

As for taking, but perhaps not trademarking, living student athletes' names and more, legal blogger Gregg E. Clifton wrote an interesting opinion for the law firm Jackson Lewis PC.
For College and ProSports Law:
Lexology link

One of the Heritage/DNA/Ancestry websites may be --and maybe should be-- in copyright-related trouble for monetizing former students' yearbook photos without permission. It is a class action, and likely to be important... because most Americans' photographs are in their old school yearbook, and the photos and comments may not be as amusing if made public today as they might or might not have been at the time.

That long ago time (my opinion) might have been before the internet, when the expectation was that the yearbook would be seen by a very limited number of people, and in the context of the in-jokes of the time. Perhaps "the time" might have been when Monty Python's Flying Circus was hugely popular, and everyone would have understood references to lumberjacks sniffing flowers, dead parrots and more.

The copyright in photographs generally belongs to the photographer, unless the photographs are clearly work for hire, or the copyright is assigned or licensed. The subject of a photograph usually has rights (of Publicity, for instance), unless they waive the rights.

Linda A Goldstein, and Amy Ralph Mudge, blogging for Baker and Hostetler LLP explained in a December 16th blog about the class action suit in California, and why the plaintiffs feel that the site in question were in the wrong to ask users to send in old yearbooks, and to ask those users to claim that they owned the copyright to the yearbooks, or that the yearbooks were not subject to copyright.
Anyone who is at all interested in their own privacy should read the complaint, which includes examples of the plaintiffs' yearbook photos, which were allegedly exploited for profit by the defendants.
When there is too much surveillance in general in society, and powerful forces in society try to control citizens' thoughts and actions through disinformation, vocabulary manipulation, destroying or rewriting history, intimidation etc, we call it Orwellian. 
Hillsdale College published an essay comparing Orwell's dystopian Big Brotherly world with ours.

On a less dark note, the fine copyright enthusiasts of MTP discuss Thom Tillis's thoughts for how the DMCA should be brought up to date to restore incentives for creative artists to... create.

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