How People Ridiculously Claim Exclusive Use of Things
People have been claiming to own exclusive use of things in ways that suppress creativity and evolution. Can you believe Apple sue companies that use the word “pod”? Warhammer went after others for using the term “space marine” and Monster Cable filed lawsuits against almost 200 companies including Disney for using the word “Monster”. The worst part is, most of these cases are actually allowed to go to court. They waste people’s time and money. The most ridiculous case of all is when Apple Corps (Music Company) sued Apple Computer in the beginning for the word “Apple”. Anything that inhibits creativity is against natural law.
“Most people get the use of the term “Trademark Abuse” wrong. They refer to trademark abuse when they really mean trademark infringement or trademark misuse. Trademark abuse is where the trademark owner improperly uses their position to threaten or file suit against someone who is not infringing. Usually it is a corporation attempting to extert control over a mark beyond that legally offered by trademark law. These corporations and their bottom-feeders, also known as corporate lawyers, use cease and desist letters as one tool to stifle the use of terms over which they have no legitimate rights. Another tool is the threat of litigation. However, often they succeed because the cost and time of litigation works against the non-infringing party especially when they are a small company. Like copyright abuse and patent abuse, trademark abuse is an equitable defense against trademark infringement but hardly anyone uses it.”
Apple Battles Entrepreneur over ‘Pod’ Trademark
“We assure ourselves that words will never hurt us, but they can cost a lot of time and money when it comes to trademark battles. Take the story of Daniel Kokin, who is continuing to fight Apple over a three-letter word: Pod.
Not iPod, mind you — just “Pod.” For nine years, Kokin has been developing a video projector, whose body design he feels is best described as a pod. His “Video Pod” projector would display video from a DVD player and other multimedia equipment, but not an iPod.”
“My team started working on the Video Pod in 2000, and it took us years to go from prototype to funded,” Kokin said. “At that time, Apple didn’t even enter our minds as a competitor. Now it’s 2010, and I still don’t think Apple is interested in video projection, but I’m supposed to rename our product because Apple also uses pod?”
This trademark fight is nothing personal: Apple has historically filed oppositions against small tech-related businesses attempting to use Pod in their product names. Names that have come under fire include MyPodder, TightPod, PodShow and even Podium. Sector Labs is the only company to go to trial with Apple over using the Pod branding.
“Ana Christian, Kokin’s lawyer, says the fight is about more than allowing small businesses to use Pod in their product names. She noted a trend in the tech industry, in which large corporations have been attempting to assume ownership of ordinary words. For example, Facebook recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Teachbook over use of the word book. Other companies have also aggressively defended trademarks on common words, such as Microsoft with the word windows.
“I’m trying to look at it on the big picture,” Christian said. “What I’m hoping to do with this case is to really reach a lot broader of an audience and make it so entrepreneurs and small businesses can use the English language as they see fit in branding their products.”
“We have discovered what we believe to be a nefarious plot by Apple to take over the world, one trademark at a time. Unable to accomplish what they seek to accomplish through copyright law, Apple is attempting to control the wonderful world of modern electronics by obtaining registered trademarks of commonly used images for cell phones and other hand-held electronics devices.”
“Pictures of some more trademarks for which Apple has filed. Look at them. The first one is the standard play button symbol that has been used for years. Then a camera lens? And a drawing of a cell phone. Next is the standard stop button that has been used for years. Then a drawing of what – an iPad? Then basic math calculators symbols and a music cleft. Apple wants to claim sole ownership for all of these marks. Then Apple can claim that anything “similar” is infringing.”
Trademarking “Law of Attraction”
“In 2006, Esther and Jerry Hicks tried to trademark the phrase “Law of Attraction,” which dates back at least to 1904 with Judge Thomas Troward.”
Is this how we talk about information we allegedly receive from “infinite intelligence”?
“It was refused by the US Patent & Trade Office, who included various articles to show that Law of Attraction was clearly a term that had existed prior to their usage of it.”
“The examining attorney has provided ample proof that the term “law of attraction” was not coined by applicant, but is used in the self-help community to describe a particular form of self-help, and that the term has been in constant use since at least 1906.”
Games Workshop Claims to Own the Concept of Space Marines
“Games Workshop decided to enter the fiction market and were shocked to find that fiction about space marines already existed. The only reasonable thing to do was sue these bastards who stole their idea of marines in space. The biggest dick move on the thieves’ part was that they apparently used time travel to do it.
Unfortunately for Games Workshop, they apparently knew nothing at all about sci-fi literature. They could have sued any one of the hundreds of authors who used the words “space marine” in their books. They could have sued freaking Microsoft for publishing a line of Halo books. People love it when Microsoft gets sued.
Instead, they went after M.C.A. Hogarth, a stay-at-home mom making ends meet by self-publishing sci-fi novels. They contacted Amazon, demanding that they take down her hilariously titled novel Spots the Space Marine: Defense of the Fiddler.
As you might imagine, this sort of corporate bullying didn’t sit well with the general public. The Interwebs lit up with nerdrage, several noted sci-fi authors jumped to Hogarth’s defense, and Games Workshop quietly dropped the complaint. Meanwhile, Hogarth got all sorts of free publicity for her book.”
Monster Cable Claims to Have Invented Monsters
“Monster moved to sue every other business that ever used the name “Monster.” Among them:
- Monster Energy Drinks
- Monster Mini Golf
- Monster Transmission, an auto garage in Florida
- The Discovery Channel (for airing a show called Monster Garage )
- The Chicago Bears (for going by the nickname “Monsters of the Midway”)
- Fenway Park (for having “Monster Seats”)
- Bally Gaming (for selling “Monster Slots” machines)
And the icing on the cake was their attempt to go after the Walt Disney Company. Why? For making the movie Monsters, Inc. All together, there have been almost 200 legal battles.
The funny thing about trademarks is that they’re market-specific. If you sell cables and trademark your brand name, that only means no other cable companies can use it. It doesn’t mean nobody else can ever use it to describe anything. That’s the good news.
The bad news, for the people being sued, anyway, is that when you can sell $2 worth of copper for $100, you have a lot of money to afford an army of lawyers. While Monster has rarely won the lawsuits it’s filed, it’s cost its opponents enormous amounts in legal fees and wasted countless hours of court time.
Not surprisingly, though, after meeting with Disney’s even bigger army of lawyers, Monster sheepishly declared that there had been “no trademark infringement.” Go figure.”
Leo Stoller Says He Owns the Word ‘Stealth’
“Can a man own a word? And can he sue to keep other people from using it?
Over the last few years, Leo Stoller has written dozens of letters to companies and organizations and individuals stating that he owns the trademark to “stealth.” He has threatened to sue people who have used the word without his permission. In some cases, he has offered to drop objections in exchange for thousands of dollars. And in a few of those instances, people or companies have paid up.”
“Mr. Stoller said he first registered “stealth” as a trademark in 1985 to cover an array of sporting goods.”
“The best-known stealth brand may be the military’s B2 stealth bomber, whose main contractor, Northrop Grumman, has fought Mr. Stoller to something of standoff. In 2001, the company paid Mr. Stoller $10 and agreed to abandon its trademark applications to use “stealth bomber” in spinoff products like model airplanes and video games. In return, Mr. Stoller agreed not to oppose Northrop’s use of “stealth” in aircraft or defense equipment.
“We resolved it in a way that achieved our business purposes without in any way agreeing that Mr. Stoller’s assertions were correct,” said Tom Henson, a Northrop Grumman spokesman.”
“A search of United States Patent and Trademark Office records found that Mr. Stoller and companies that share a Chicago post office box with him – Central Mfg., Stealth Industries, and S. Industries – hold at least two dozen registered trademarks for “stealth,” covering such diverse products and services as crossbows, pool cues and insurance consultations.
Mr. Stoller said that he also held and administered as many as two dozen other “stealth” trademarks, and insisted that his close association with the word gave him special rights.”
“We’re entitled to own it with all goods and services,” he said. “We were there first.”
“For all his time in federal courtrooms – Mr. Stoller says his companies have been in court 60 times – there is no record within the Lexis database of a federal court decision on “stealth” in his favor. But in 2003, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused to allow an air conditioner company called York International to use “stealth” because Mr. Stoller had previously sold air conditioners with that name.”
“Eric Goldhagen, a member of the InterActivist Network, said that members of his group planned to talk to lawyers and others who have received letters from Mr. Stoller to discuss ways to deal with his “stealth” claims. “The fact that somebody, just by claiming to own a word, can intimidate large companies and powerful law firms shows the damage, to an extent, is already done,” he said. “If people like Stoller are allowed to get away with this unchallenged, there could be ripple effects to every form of public mass media.”
In the movie realm, Mr. Stoller says that he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sony in March, objecting to Columbia Pictures’ plan to open its Navy film under the title “Stealth.” The next month Columbia asked the federal court in Chicago to rule that using the word as a movie title did not violate copyright law.
Mr. Stoller, who has filed a counterclaim, says he will not back down. “I will police and protect the stealth mark against all,” he said.”
- Colin Moynihan (New York Times, Published: July 4, 2005)
Jason Gambert repeatedly tried to trademark SEO, but the internet fought back.
“If you haven’t heard of Gambert, don’t worry. When he filed several applications to claim ownership of SEO as a marketing tool, beginning in 2007, no one else had either.
But when blogger Sarah Bird discovered the applications, she posted Gambert’s saga and invited readers to file notices of opposition. And it worked.
In March of 2010, the UPSTO threw out his requests.”
Reforming Trademark Law to Reflect the Internet Economy
“The protections granted under intellectual property law were originated first and foremost to advance the cause of science and thereby society. This goal was explicitly codified in Article I of the United States Constitution, stating that to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts,” Congress may grant “authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
Only as a secondary and indirect result were intellectual property rights protected to reward businesses and inventors. However, the soaring value of intellectual property has resulted in businesses becoming increasingly zealous and litigious in guarding their intellectual property. This has ironically resulted in intellectual property law, and the rights it grants, becoming more of a hindrance than a spur to societal and scientific advancement.
While true in all areas of intellectual property, this is particularly the case in trademark law. Yet trademark law has deviated from its origins of societal advancement and consumer protection and has now become an impediment to the formation of new businesses and ideas. Trademark law should be reformed to coincide with new marketplace realities and changed consumer perceptions caused by the advent of the Internet.”
“Several revolutionary transformations ushered in by the Internet have changed the way consumers view trademarks and how trademarks function. New guidelines that reflect these changes desperately need to be implemented, again making trademark law an impetus and not an obstacle for societal growth.”
“This exponential growth in the number of trademarks and domain names has made consumers increasingly aware of subtle distinctions between trademarks. This lessens the likelihood that consumers will find two similar trademarks or domain names to be confusingly similar. Instead, consumers now view trademarks, and particularly domain names, as analogous to phone numbers. For like a phone number where one wrong digit will result in a different person being contacted, small differences in domain names will lead to a different domain name and company. As an example, consumers now realize that typing in www.homes.com will take them to a different company than typing in www.ehomes.com.
The courts, using precedents established before the explosive growth in the number of trademarks and domain names, have not mirrored consumers’ increasing sophistication and ability to distinguish subtle differences in trademarks. As a result, courts are granting current trademark owners too much protection and thereby impeding the formation of other trademarks that can coexist in the marketplace without consumer confusion occurring. Except for very strong trademarks or obvious attempts at trademark infringement, courts should only find a likelihood of consumer confusion when the marks are identical or very nearly so. This would again root trademark law in its origins of protecting consumers and not businesses.”
“The worldwide nature of the Internet coupled with courts’ holding that marketing on the Internet is only one channel of trade, has increased the likelihood of a court finding trademark infringement more so than in the past. This greater protection for trademarks has paradoxically come at a time when savvy consumers require less protection than ever.
Trademark law should be reformed to better reflect new marketplace realities and changed consumer perceptions as discussed throughout this article. Until then, trademark law will ironically continue to run counter to its origins of societal advancement and consumer protection.”
How Trademark Laws Can Be Improved
In the past, it might be harder to check for how words and names are used in business. But that is not the case now with the evolution of the internet. People can simply do a search to see how long something has been used, and how widely it has reached. Trademark laws should be based on three things: First to use, Strength of use, and Nature of use. For example: If one person is the first to use a particular mark with significant effect, then another person or company that uses that mark later has no right to sue the first person who used it. And if the second person uses the mark in such a way that it creates a strong enough effect on the marketplace, then the first person has no right to sue the second person who uses it and created significant effect with it. And if a trademark consists of words or a combination of words that appropriately describes a certain subject or an action (For e.g. “Law of Attraction”, “Photoshopped”, etc) then people have no right to stop others from using such words in communication of thoughts and ideas. In other words, rights should be based on capability, action and reason, and not mere claiming of it. In other words, rights of use should be based on “I used it first” and/or “I used it well” and/or “I used it appropriately”.
The Real Solution to All of These
In Truth, all man made laws and external authority should be removed, and only Natural Law and Self Sovereignty should exist. Trademark laws, patent laws and copyright laws have created more problems than they solve. A society that is truly free does not have man made laws but it follows only Natural Law.
You can help by educating others about this as well. Help stop creativity and education from being destroyed by abuse of corporate law. This affects everyone.
The rules of reality are defined by collective consciousness. Help spread the word to get as many people as possible to re-think what’s being allowed to be done.
Freedom has to be fought for. People will keep doing what they can get away with until others start standing up for their rights or what is right.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”
- Edmund Burke