• U.S federal court in Washington State tosses TRADER JOE’S lawsuit aimed at Vancouver, Canada’s PIRATE JOE’s food store, which buys genuine TRADER JOE’S items purchased in the U.S. and resells them in a South Pacific–themed grocery located in Vancouver B.C.  To protest being sued, the Canadian grocer dropped the “P” and became “_IRATE JOE’S”


  • Does a U.S. Court have power (subject matter jurisdiction) to decide  allegations of infringement involving conduct entirely outside the U.S.? 
  • Can U.S. trademark rights “cross the border?”


  • TRADER JOE’S ability to stop a self-declared trademark “Pirate” who is no ordinary “Joe,” but rather one who makes no bones about being a pirate who parrots the TRADER JOE’s mystique

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HEADLINE: Fight Over Obamacare extends to TM Office?


  • The press, public, and even the President, have embraced “Obamacare” as shorthand for “The Affordable Care Act”
  • In recent months, half-a-dozen or so trademark applications featuring “Obamacare” have been filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

o    Some related to insurance and education services

o    Some critical of the law See http://www.marketwatch.com/story/race-to-sign-up-for-obamacare-trademarks-2013-10-07

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HEADLINE: Should Washington Redskins Keep Their ®?


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“Gonna play that shady grove, play that shady grove.” Steve Earle, “Warren Hellman’s Banjo.”

As regular, or even irregular, readers of this blog know, music plays a big part in my life. From my roots in Trenton NJ, listening to The Beatles on a cheap transistor radio, to wearing out the grooves in CSNY’s Carry On at the Jersey Shore, to catching emerging artists like Joe Pug at DC’s wonderful Hamilton, music has brought me some of life’s happiest moments. And no musical moments have been happier than the San Francisco mornings and afternoons I’ve spent with my son, his friend Greg D. and Greg’s Dad Spiros at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (HSB as regulars call it).

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“There ain’t no doubt in no one’s mind that love’s the finest thing around.” Gone To Carolina In My Mind by James Taylor

We professionals who deal with trademarks and brand names for a living spend a lot of breath talking about goodwill. We call it the life blood of a brand, the currency of

“Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea and frolicked in the Autumn mist in a land called Honolee.” Puff The Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul, and Mary

I love satellite radio, although I was late to the party. I resisted taking the plunge, figuring that the programmers at XM/Sirius couldn’t approach, much less duplicate, the eclectic, genre-bending variety provided by my favorite terrestrial station, WXPN in Philadelphia (which I enjoy in D.C. courtesy of the Internet). But when my trusty car expired, I replaced it with a new model that came with a free trial subscription to Sirius/XM. I took me less than the ride home from the dealership to be hooked. Sure, each station might play a limited range of music–but the sheer variety of music across the Sirius/XM spectrum is mind-blowing, not to mention all the news, sports, comedy, and last but not least, Howard Stern. On any given commute, I can be serenaded by old stalwarts like Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Neil Young, their modern-day progeny such as Dawes, Fleet Foxes, and Deer Tick, old-school and Outlaw country from Willie, Waylon, Merle, and McMurtry, and, of course, Elvis, Sinatra, The Boss, The Dead, and Pearl Jam, all of whom have channels devoted to them.

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“Lately I’ve been thinking / What would the world do without the news / You wouldn’t know when wars were started / Or when they ended, win or lose.” Newspapers by Stan Ridgway

Yesterday’s IP blogosphere brought news of another battle of the bands involving trademark rights. Christian rockers the Newsboys did not turn the other cheek when they discovered a rap duo performing as New Boyz. They sued. And they lost. Bigtime. Oh, the Newsboys got their day in court all right, but it lasted just about one day, with the judge tossing the complaint as legally deficient. The Newsboys claimed that the rappers’ name New Boyz would confuse and confound the music buying audience. They railed that the New Boyz songs were sexually charged. They pointed to their own 1991 album title “Boys will be Boyz” as evidence that the groups’ names were too close for comfort. And the band that had honed its reputation in the realm of Christian Rock insisted that their music was not just for the religious set; they claimed “cross-over” appeal to the same “demographic” that listens to and downloads New Boyz allegedly salacious songs.

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“Don’t Want to Die in a Super Eight.” “Super 8″ by Jason Isbell

Like me, you’ve probably driven by hundreds of Super 8 motels in your lifetime. Travelling up I-95 for hours on rides to Jersey and New York or on longer hauls southward to the Carolinas, Georgia, and down the endless Florida coast, the rectangular sign with big red 8, black “Super,” and bright yellow background is hard to ignore, even as it blends in with the melange of fast food oases and other budget-conscious lodges that dot the interchanges and byways of our endless ribbons of highway.

Full disclosure–I’ve never stayed at a Super 8 Motel. Never given the place much thought, really. Not because I’m some kind of snob when it comes to accommodations. Sure, I enjoy a swanky room at a Ritz Carlton or Monaco hotel. But I’m equally at home at a Motel 6, where Tom Bodett leaves the light on for us, or at a Holiday Inn, my parent’s motel of choice for our occasional family junkets. I’ve even stayed at a few La Quinta’s, which one of my musician friends, (who’s seen the inside of many a motel), insists means “next to Denny’s.” Somehow, however, my travelling stars and terrestrial GPS never aligned to guide me into the parking lot of a Super 8.

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“One toke over the line, Sweet Jesus, one toke over the line.  Sittin’ downtown at the railway station, one toke over the line.” One Toke Over The Line, Brewer and Shipley

On a slow news day, word spread through the wire services that Jamen Shively, an ex-Microsofter, plans to launch a brand of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the only two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  He is looking for “seed money” for his new venture, and hopes to source his product from Mexico. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. So Shively, who left Microsoft in 2009, sees a buoyant market for his brand, Diego Pellicer,  in both the recreational and medical markets.

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“You and I travel  to the beat of a different drum.”  Different Drum, by Michael Nesmith

In a week dominated by devastation in the Nation’s tornado alley, it was easy to miss the news that Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for the Doors, had died.  While Jim Morrison defined the Doors’ image with his flamboyant stage presence and apocalyptic lyrics, Manzarek defined the band’s sound, lending baroque classical flourishes to the definitive Doors song Light My Fire and propulsive jazz inflected stylings to many other of the band’s hits.

While Manzarek is best remembered for his music, his obituary also contains a Softrights-worthy footnote about a long simmering, and sometimes roiling,  trademark dispute over rights in the Doors name,  As reported in Billboard back in 2008, the four members of the Doors, Morrison, Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore, signed a pact in 1970 that gave each of them veto power over any business deal.  According to Billboard, the four Doors inked that agreement after a nasty battle about whether to let Buick use “Light My Fire” in a television commercial.

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