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...the first thing you see in your inbox is a trademark dilution complaint about your parody of the Myers-Briggs® personality typing system. Apparently, my parody has rather high Google PageRank.

Okay, off to edit the site...



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
That's a really nicely written letter!
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Yep. I'm pleased they didn't pull out the Fire-Breathing Asshole® for this. :)
Feb. 12th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Aren't parodies protected by law?
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
As far as copyright law is concerned, yes. US copyright law specifically carves out an exception to copyright protection for parody and satire.

Trademark law, though, is a whole different ball o' wax. Trademarks are protected in much the same way patents are (and are administered by the same agency, the US Patent and Trademark Office). There are no "fair use" or parody exemptions for trademark infringement.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Parody is considered a form of fair use, protected by Title 17 USC 107. The Supreme Court has ruled that parody is protected under the fair use clause even if the parody is commercial in nature.
Feb. 15th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, yes, they definitely are phrasing this in terms of fair use. So then I wonder if there's any decisions about parodies of trademarks as opposed to copyrighted material.
Feb. 16th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
Good question. Trademark law is completely different from copyright law, and different rules apply. I know that it's very difficult to get away with using someone else's trademark even in clear-cut cases of parody (a Web site I used to love, which had parodies of famous corporate trademarks, got taken down very quickly after it went up; my personal favorite was a Radio Shack logo that said "You've got money. We've got pockets." underneath it).
Feb. 12th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
shouldn't attorneys be busy fighting the righteous battles "of the people"? silly me... i forgot where i was for a moment.
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
this is what IP lawyers do... they have to protect the intellectual property of their clients.

This was a very nice and specific letter. This is really the first line of defense: the cease-and-desist letter.

<---took an intellectual property law class. it was interesting.
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
They really have no choice. There's a strange quirk in US trademark law: if a person's trademark is infringed and the peron doesn't do anything about it, he loses the trademark. Trademark owners are required to pursue trademark infringement in order to protect their trademarks.

In this particular case, I didn't realize the name "Myers-Briggs®" was a trademark.
Feb. 12th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
I remember hearing something about "Loving More" magazine having to deal with that about when the name was used on a TV show (studio 50 I think). said that they didn't WANT to tell them not to use it, but if they didn't then anybody could.

Internet spambot corporations and parody test...when do you have time to sleep?
Feb. 12th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
A lot of formerly-proprietary product names have fallen victim to this; 'aspirin' and 'zipper' immediately come to mind (as does 'heroin'...). I think the two most fiercely defended trademarks - as the two at greatest risk of becoming generic - are Coke® and Band-Aid®. (Note how the latter advertises itself: "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand...") It's big business. - ZM

Edited at 2008-02-12 08:53 pm (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Surprisingly nice letter. Honestly, I don't see any issue with trademark owners protecting their brand equity - it's a valuable commodity. A recent example I'm familiar with is a certain company went after a lube being marketed as Juicy Fruit flavor. The flavor and symbol are protected. Given the brand equity in the "wholesome" idea of "juicy fruit", and the $ spent protecting and promoting said brand, I can understand why they wouldn't want it associated with an unrelated product.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yep. They did do a good job; I haven't received many legal notices over my Web site, but I have received a few (mostly over the spam pages), and they've generally been a lot more hostile.

They've also had less ground to stand on. I wonder if the two are related.
Feb. 13th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
You're in trouble.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )