My latest entry on Art & Artifice, regarding developments in AFP v. Morel is available here. This case addresses, among other issues, copyright infringement for use of images found on Twitter.
My latest entry on Art & Artifice regarding the new class action lawsuit against Instagram is available here.
Read my latest entry on Art & Artifice here.
I am very pleased to announce that I am now a contributing author on the Art & Artifice blog. This art law blog is shared among five co-authors based in the U.K., Italy, and now the United States.
My first entry is located here.
On May 21, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona seeking a declaratory judgment that Google is a generic term. Essentially, this lawsuit, if successful, would deprive the term "Google" of any trademark protection. Instead of serving to identify the source of Google's internet services and search engine, the term "Google" would be construed as a generic term that means using an internet search engine. A link to the Complaint is available here.
The plaintiff filed this lawsuit after Google had several hundred domain names containing the word "google" transferred away from him. (Using specialized international arbitration proceedings, a domain name that contains a registered trademark may be transferred to the trademark owner if all the legal criteria are met--essentially a showing of "bad faith" on the part of the person who registered the domain name.) The plaintiff claims he needs the domain names, but it unclear from the Complaint for what purpose and in what capacity he plans to use the domains.
Although the lawsuit seems just a touch far-fetched and even slightly comical, the suit could have major implications for Google if the plaintiff succeeds. Having a trademark is great, having a registered, famous trademark is even better... but having a trademark that is so famous it becomes a generic word to describe a good or service, is not good. Formerly registered trademarks that have become generic include: thermos, aspirin, laundromat, and videotape. Registered trademarks in danger of becoming generic include: Astroturf, Band-aid, ChapStick, and Q-Tips. Finding its trademark at risk, Xerox went on an anti-genericizing ad campaign--the ads contained an image of a zipper (another trademark gone generic) in an attempt to educate the public about proper use of a trademark. Brands and intellectual property organizations also try to educate movie executives, writers, and editors in an attempt to influence the way trademarks are used in entertainment. Google has been working for years to keep its mark out of the generic graveyard, but whether a federal judge will be persuaded remains to be seen...
Earlier this month Italian business man Diego Della Valle announced that he will be reviving the Elsa Schiaparelli brand to market very high end ready to wear and haute couture fashion. During the 1930's, Schiaparelli was an extremely influential fashion designer in Paris, rivaling Coco Chanel. Schiaparelli was forced to close her business in 1954 due to the economic downturn and passed away in 1973. Her work is currently on view at an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute alongside the works of Miuccia Prada.
Commentators suggest that this kind of revival is part of a growing trend. Designers of Schiaparelli's era are particularly attractive as their clothing harkens back to a far different time for fashion and shows extraordinary workmanship. Indeed, French entrepreneur Arnaud de Lummen has made a business out of buying lifeless luxury brands in recent years.
Of course the intellectual property implications of Della Valle's announcement intrigued me. Although Schiaparelli closed her business in the 1950's, the name, and the value of that name survived her. As it turns out, rights to the name were sold to Della Valle in 2007. Della Valle seems to have noble goals for the brand and plans to sell the clothing from only one location, the site of Schiaparelli's original shop, 21 Place Vendôme in Paris. However, I can't help but feel a bit of a pang about the use of Schiaparelli's name. She had an extraordinarily unique vision--a vision that was both informed by and transcendent of her time.