Looks like it's time to break out my favorite "test" in a trademark dispute: the moron in a hurry test. Last month, video gamer blog Kotaku was one of a few blogs that linked to a humorous t-shirt that was for sale parodying the ESRB video game rating system. The t-shirt read: "Your Mom's Rated E for Everyone." And what happens next? The Entertainment Software Association (the folks behind the ESRB ratings) send out a cease and desist letter to Kotaku, claiming that there's a "substantial likelihood that the ESRB certification marks will face tarnishment and dilution." Now, there are a few problems here. First, Kotaku had nothing to do with the actual shirt (though, the ESA folks apparently couldn't figure that out). They were just writing about it, which is clearly perfectly legal no matter how you look at it. Kotaku home base (better known as Gawker Media) pointed out to the ESA that they were probably mistaken and that since it's news/editorial content there's nothing to bother with here. But, apparently the lawyers at the ESA don't believe in that sort of thing, and repeated their demand that Kotaku's post be taken down. Of course, even if Kotaku were selling the t-shirt, they'd have a pretty clear case for it being legal. On the copyright side, it's a parody, which is an acceptable defense for fair use. On the trademark side, we trot out the moron in a hurry, who is unlikely to ever think that a t-shirt reading "Your Mom's Rated E for Everyone" is actually endorsed by the ESRB. If anything, the ESRB just spiked the demand for this t-shirt. However, what would be really fun, is if someone now creates a video game named "Your Mom" and tries to get an ESRB rating of "E for Everyone."
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