Where In Trademark Law Does It Say It's Okay To Trademark A Town Name 'For The Good Of The Community'?
from the curious dept
Either way, a district court judge has sided with SMRi and blocked others from selling goods with the word Sturgis on them without permission (i.e., without paying up). While I haven't seen the full ruling (anyone have it?) from District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken, the quotes in the Rapid City Journal seem really troubling, and don't seem to line up with basic trademark law:
The number of vendors selling the licensed merchandise shows that they believe they have an "exclusive product to sell," Viken said.Neither of those arguments makes any sense. The fact that SMRi convinced some people to pay up suddenly means that the trademark is valid? Huh? What sort of logic is that? As long as someone claiming a bogus trademark gets someone to pay then that must mean that the mark is valid? Talk about an easy scam. Get a questionable trademark, get a buddy to "license" it, and never worry about anyone challenging the mark again.
Viken also noted that because royalties from the licensing agreements are used to support the rally and Sturgis charities, the harm to the community would outweigh any harm done to the vendors who are prohibited from using the word "Sturgis" on their products.
Separately, the idea that since royalties support a charity it's okay to abuse trademark law seems beyond belief. I'm curious where in the Lanham Act it says "descriptive terms are okay to trademark if the judge thinks it's good for the community"?