Trademark Troll Taught That Misusing Trademarks Isn't Such A Great Idea

from the good-work dept

Back in 2005, we had a post about a guy who was misusing trademark law to basically bully plenty of companies into giving him money. It was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of trademark law, where the guy, Leo Stoller, seemed to believe that once he had a trademark on a word, such as “stealth” he had complete control over the word, and could sue any company that used “stealth” in a brand name. Of course, that’s not how trademark works at all — and it appears the courts have now made that very clear to Mr. Stoller. BoingBoing brings us up to date on the fact that Stoller didn’t just lose one of his court cases, he was forced to declare bankruptcy and have both his personal and corporate assets (including the trademarks) liquidated. Also, the US Patent and Trademark Office sanctioned him and banned Stoller from filing for trademark extensions for a period of two years. Sure, it may have seemed nice for him to have found what he thought was a legal loophole to bully companies into paying him money — but eventually he learned that misusing trademarks isn’t quite the road to riches he imagined.


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Comments on “Trademark Troll Taught That Misusing Trademarks Isn't Such A Great Idea”

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11 Comments
misanthropic humanist says:

could this be a strategy?

“and it appears the courts have now made that very clear to Mr. Stoller”

And more importantly, to everyone else.

Clearly Mr. Stoller has done us all a great service.

So, here’s a thought. To burn outrageous laws you need to set a precedent. But when large corporate interests are in the frame we only get limp, mock justice.

However, when somebody small enough goes up against said big interests they get bitchslapped back to next week.

If we want to see bad laws broken by establishment of precedent someone should recruit stooges, breadline cases with no assets worth speaking of and fund them to play agent provocateur in cases that will be decided in favour of real justice.

zcat (user link) says:

Re: could this be a strategy?

I’m an advocate of the “One Patent Per Child” project. Let’s give every child (say 18 to 20 age range) in some developing country a bullshit patent and some free help to enforece it (plane ticket, someone they can board with, a nice suit, and pro-bono lawyer).

Let MSFT choose between having all software patents ruled invalid or dying the death of a thousand cuts. Even if they never lose a single case the legal cost of defending them all will bankrupt them.

Think about it! a bunch of children in the third world get to visit another country, some valuable insight into the american legal system, and a chance to enrich their local village substantially if they do manage to win a lawsuit… MSFT couldn’t countersue, bad publicity for a start, and so many other reasons.

The idea isn’t particularly original either; I just copied what MSFT did using SCO as a proxy, but took a fine-grained approach to it.

Cleverboy says:

Should be a lesson...

Should also be a lesson to multinational corporations who buy smaller companies, not simply to get their technology, but to get their trademark, before promptly sitting on said trademark for nearly 10 years… doesn’t sound like anyone we know does it? Shouldn’t “trademarks” be actively used in “trade”… at least once every 3 or 4 years or so?

Paul (user link) says:

just deserts

If you read that article he went after everybody from Google to Columbia Pictures. That guy was crazy, you think he would have learned from his first failed attempt at suing someone.

I am not sure if this guy had a lawyer or was the lawyer but either way the lawyer should be punished for being an idiot. But sadly in this country we don’t punish idiots we reward them (read: McDonald’s hot coffee incident).

Brad says:

Cleverboy...not that clever

Should also be a lesson to multinational corporations who buy smaller companies, not simply to get their technology, but to get their trademark, before promptly sitting on said trademark for nearly 10 years… doesn’t sound like anyone we know does it? -Cleverboy

Are you actually stupid enough to imply that Cisco bought Linksys for the sole purpose of getting the iPhone trademark? That’s idiotic.

How about we punish companies who think they’re so special that laws don’t apply to them. Everyone and their dog knew the iPhone was a product that had existed and continued to exist prior to Apple’s release. Apple decided they didn’t have to worry about it. I hope Cisco crushes them in court.

Real products win out over fictitious ones any day. I’m glad Apple got nailed for its ego. Or did you forget when they sued a guy who registered itunes.co.uk for a full two years prior to the iTunes product existing? How ’bout suing anyone who used “pod” in a music product?

Apple is a bully of a toddler in court. They whine and cry and pretend everything was theirs first, and take it by legal force. This time they are going up against someone a lot bigger, and a lot stronger. I’m happy to see this Apple get bruised.

Kevin says:

Are you actually stupid enough to imply that Cisco bought Linksys for the sole purpose of getting the iPhone trademark? That’s idiotic.

No, that truly would be idiotic since Linksys had nothing to do with the original iPhone name. What he’s implying is that Cisco bought Infogear Technology, who had originally trademarked the iPhone name. Duh!

Confused moron says:

in a hurry!

If you read the ‘Complaint in STEALTH case’ from the page linked in the article http://www.roylance.com/publications.asp
it looks like he managed to defend his trademark of the word s t e a l t h (I don’t want him coming after me in his desperation!) dozens of times.

I’m not sure I understand trademark law either. In this case he had licensed the above word for use in naming fishing gear including fishing line to Lindy-Little Joe, Pure Fishing started using the same word in the name of their fishing line. If I were in the fishing store and saw both side by side I would be confused.

If you read his blog
http://rentmark.blogspot.com/
you’ll discover that he is most likely a troll, possibly insane, and he implies that he is an attorney. He also creates official sounding associations and organizations that he is president of and possibly the only member and uses those to make pronouncements that attempt to indicate he is an expert in various subjects.

I’ll agree he had this coming, but to me it seems that this case should have been decided in his favor. Can anyone explain this to me so I don’t have to read all the articles on the attorneys page?

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