Hall and Oates sue “Haulin’ Oats”

Jennifer Manns : March 11, 2015 12:49 pm : METAfeed

The iconic duo Hall and Oates are suing a granola company, Early Bird, for their use of the mark “Haulin’ Oats.” Haulin’ Oates is a breakfast product produced by Early Bird. Unfortunately for Early Bird, Hall and Oates hold Federal trademark registration for both Hall and Oates and Haulin’ Oates, which covers oatmeal sales. Hall and Oates claim both infringement on their trademark and argue that Early Bird’s product is a phonetic play on the band’s name. In response, Early Bird’s spokesman announced a “Haulin’ Oats” product sale for customers who use the code “SAYITISNTSO,” which is a clear reference to a Hall and Oates song.


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Changing the Image of a Team: The Cleveland Browns

Jennifer Manns : March 4, 2015 3:53 pm : ARTICLEPOSTMETAfeed

The Cleveland Browns has recently subtly altered the team logo. Though greatly publicized and built up over the past two years, the revealed changes are primarily brightened colors and a more menacing dog graphic. The changes have received negative attention on social media from fans who were expecting the new logo to be more different than the 2014 version.


The new Browns logo and color highlights a vital aspect of trademark law: the fact that trademarks change. Even a subtle change to a trademark represents a change in the way an organization wishes to market itself and requires consumers to recognize the change in order to use the mark to identify the source of official goods. Slight changes in trademarks may ease a consumer into the new trademark and prevent confusion, which may have been a motivation for the Browns. Extreme changes can lead to organizations being forced to abandon an old mark and allow it to slip into the public domain. Trademarks in the public domain, like many so-called “old school” team logos are difficult for teams to maintain trademark protection for and can thus easily appear on unofficial merchandise. The 2015 Cleveland Browns logo may not be much of a change, but it is a smart change.

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Taylor Swift: Attempting to Trademark Lyrics

Jennifer Manns : February 10, 2015 4:32 pm : METAfeed


Taylor Swift is the latest in a long line of entities attempting to trademark something odd. The Seattle Seahawks recently attempted to trademark the word “boom” and the number “12.” Now, Taylor Swift has applied for a trademark for lyrics from songs in her most recent album in order to protect herself from counterfeit album merchandise. The lyrics she is attempting to gain federal trademark protection for are fairly generic phrases, including “Party like it’s 1989,” “Cause we never go out of style,” and “This sick beat.” The chances that any of these lyrics will pass muster and become federally registered trademarks are small. The lyrics consist of commonly used phrases that appear in both other songs and daily life. This fact alone does not preclude the lyrics from being trademarks, but the lyrics are such common phrases that even a Taylor Swift fan might not recognize them as a source of Taylor Swift merchandise under ordinary circumstances. Several other artists, including Beyonce and Britney Spears, have also attempted to trademark song lyrics, but none gained federal protection and the applications were abandoned. This is likely because consumers do not associate a music artist with a phrase in the same way that a consumer associates McDonald’s with the phrase “I’m lovin’ it.” Taylor Swift’s latest trademark attempts will therefore likely be unsuccessful as well. Taylor Swift fans can relax, however, because her music and performances are protected by copyrights that will keep her in high waist shorts for a long time.

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The Sports Car of ISPs

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : January 31, 2015 4:06 pm : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMETAfeedTech & Internet

05-veyron-power-gauge-detWhy’s my Internet so slow?! I won’t disparage any particular service provider, but we’ve all experienced an agonizingly slow Internet connection. In the Internet era where virtually every facet of life relies on the Internet, a slow connection can be disastrous. However, Google may have ignited the beginning of the end of slow Internet.

Google has invested in the so-called Google Fiber network, which is currently available in only several metropolitan areas. Google Fiber boasts Internet speeds up to 1000 megabits per second, which utterly eclipses rival ISPs’ top speeds of 40 to 5o mbps. Need a visual? Imagine a drag race between a Ferrari and a Minivan. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look for yourself, but, before you get too excited, it may be a while before Google Fiber is available nationwide. So, if you happen to be one of the lucky few cities where it’s available, comment below and let us know if it’s worth waiting for!

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Sam Smith owes royalties to Tom Petty for “Stay with Me,” Petty says similarities are a “musical accident”

Nickolas Galendez : January 29, 2015 12:40 pm : METAfeed

When Sam Smith’s song “Stay With Me” was first released, several critics noted that the song sounded similar to “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty. If you listen to the two songs, you can hear why – there are certainly some similarities between the two works.

Recently, the two artists reached a settlement agreement that requires Smith to pay Petty 12.5 percent of the royalties received. Speaking on the subject, Tom Petty noted that both sides were able to reach an agreement out-of-court, and Petty labeled the similarities a “musical accident.” Petty (along with Jeff Lynne, the collaborator of Petty’s on “I Won’t Back Down) will now receive a writing credit on the song.

As a law student, it is always good to see two parties taking the non-adversarial route to solving potential problems rather than rushing to the courthouse to litigate. If Smith and Petty did not reach an agreement and, instead, Petty sued, what do you think the result would have been?

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Supreme Court’s Standard of Review Stance

Jewell Briggs : January 29, 2015 12:05 pm : METAfeed

US Supreme CourtLast week the Court released opinions for 2 of the 3 intellectual property cases it heard last fall. In Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, a trademark case involving tacking, the Court was asked to determine whether tacking is a question for the jury or the judge. In Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., a patent case, the Court was asked to determine “what standard the Court of Appeals should use when it reviews a trial judge’s resolution of an underlying factual dispute.”  In both cases the Court held that the standard of review for intellectual property cases should not differ from the currently held standard of review in non-intellectual property cases. Thus, the Court of Appeals and other lower courts should apply a clear error standard when  reviewing factual matters, including patent claim construction and trademark tacking matters.



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Should Professional Athletes Have Free Speech On the Field?

Jennifer Manns : January 28, 2015 4:00 pm : METAfeed

In contemplation of further research, I pose the question: Should professional athletes be entitled to the same free speech on the field as the fans are entitled to in the stands?

Professional athletes can be fined for unsportsmanlike conduct and even gestures they make on the field. Recently, five Rams players gained media attention by entering the field with their hands up, in a “don’t shoot” pose that has become popular with police violence protesters. The NFL decided not to fine these players. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, however, was fined $20,000 for an explicit gesture he made on the field during the NFC Championship game. Football players in the NFL can also be subject to fines for excessive celebrations after a touchdown. Incidents like these exemplify a central issue in professional sports and have led to public debate over whether sports organizations should be restricting the behavior of their athletes through fines and suspensions. While professional sports teams are private organizations, they often strictly control athletes’ behavior during the season, on and off the field. Should professional athletes be held to such standards?

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Seahawks Want to Trademark “Boom” and the Number “12”

Jennifer Manns : January 22, 2015 2:13 pm : METAfeed

Just in time for Superbowl season, the NFL championship contender, the Seattle Seahawks, are reportedly pursuing new trademark protections. The Seahawks filed for trademark protection for the number “12”, the word “Boom,” and even the phrase “Go Hawks.” The trademark applications were filed in late 2013, but have recently come to light in the wake of new developments surrounding the potential trademarks.

Seahawk 12 exp_0According to the Lanham Act, a trademark may not be registered if it resembles another already registered mark and will likely cause confusion as to the true origin of the goods. In the case of the Seahawks, this restriction may bar its recent applications. The phrase “Go Hawks” has already been blocked due to objections from both the NHL and the NBA on behalf of teams that already have a similar slogan. “Boom” was rejected by federal trademark examiners because of a similar likelihood of confusion concern with already registered names. The number “12” by itself is likely too broad to be a potential trademark because it would infringe on the trademarks of other players and teams as well as marks containing the number 12 in fields outside of the sports industry. The Seahawks organization is reportedly attempting to reapply for trademark protection for its team signifiers.

An article published in the Seattle Times discussed the trademark applications further.

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Police Presence to Make Winter Driving Safer?

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : January 19, 2015 2:07 pm : BeyondMediaMETAfeed

Trafficstop-winterIt’s that time of year again where the weather gets bad and the driving gets worse. The news in Michigan has been peppered with tragic winter car crashes, and the state is paying attention. The Michigan State Police has vowed to crack down on poor driving in an effort to deter bad driving and thus prevent fatal car accidents. Furthermore, the State Police intends to launch an initiative this upcoming summer that will target people who text while driving by placing officers in unmarked cars to videotape potential violators. The question is, does this go too far? It’s legal, but will this activity create a deeper divide between the police and ordinary citizens? Weigh in with your comments below!

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Explaining IP?

Jewell Briggs : January 9, 2015 12:12 pm : METAfeed

I recently came across the newly launched USPTO children and teen orientated webpage, and I have to admit that I spent more time than I should exploring the website‘s offerings. The site has inventor trading cards with cartoon pictorials and invention descriptions. The site features video summaries of all recent headline inventions, and videos featuring young students and their novel inventions. The site is filled with a variety of at home and in class activities, such as building a rocket using patent claims and comparing copyrightable sound marks. These activities can be completed to earn a scout patch. The site’s offerings are expansive with three overarching sections for children, teens, and educators.

CaptureThe site is an attempt to teach children the importance of the intellectual property and excite them about becoming inventors. However, speaking from my own explorations, you do not have to be a youngster to appreciate what this site has to offer.



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