There Can Be Only One… Cyberlawyer?

from the seriously? dept

In our culture where some companies (and their lawyers) have convinced people that intellectual property gives you total control over things, we start to see some bizarre and ridiculous trademark claims. The latest comes to us via the EFF, who point to a lawyer who has received a trademark on the term “cyberlaw” and is going after other lawyers who use the term which has been in fairly common usage for ages. As the EFF notes, it’s especially upsetting that an intellectual property lawyer would abuse trademark law this way in a manner well beyond what trademark law is supposed to do — while also warning that courts as well as tech companies don’t tend to look kindly on people who abuse trademark law.

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Comments on “There Can Be Only One… Cyberlawyer?”

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17 Comments
Shohat says:

Yes.. and that's normal

Stop acting all surprised over normal things.
Just like there is only one Citybank
There is only one Detroit motor show
And there is only one World Trade Center (omg ! the horror)

Seriously, stop being emo everytime when perfectly reasonable IP law applies to things remotely related to the internet.

ehrichweiss says:

the answer is..

The answer is simple…dilute his trademark. Use cyberlaw without the registered trademark thingy and always spell it lower case. Google hated that and tried to get people to stop but had little luck. Think about the manpower that google has and then realize that this is one little chump who wants to sue but doesn’t yet realize that he’ll have to actively defend the trademark in ways that do *not* involve lawsuits. He’s gonna have his work cut out for him.

Besides, he’s likely not going to get to keep it long since it has been used by everyone else to talk about something that was clearly not his practice, and IIRC that’s one of the ways they determine if the trademark is defendable.

Mike Brown (user link) says:

Not exactly...

> a lawyer who has received a trademark on the term “cyberlaw”

Sorry, no. It’s annoying that one lawyer in this day and age could claim exclusive rights in a widely used term like “cyberlaw”, but let’s not get carried away.

1 – The lawyer has not “received a trademark”. Under US law, trademarks are indications of sources of goods or services, which are created by use in commerce. They are not “received”.

2 – Trademarks can be registered, once they have been created by use in commerce, but a (valid) registration will only be issued if the use was, in fact, trademark use and the mark does, in fact, indicate a source of goods or services.

3 – If lots of people are using a mark over many years, so that when the consuming public sees the mark they don’t associate it with any one of them, then it doesn’t indicate a source. In that case, it’s not a mark at all, it’s a generic term for the good or service.

4 – The lawyer has just filed an application to register the mark, and that only a month ago. You can apply to register anything – it just takes a credit card and a computer. Just filing an application to register “ham sandwich” doesn’t make it a trademark for ham sandwiches – although it could be a very good trademark for tire chains or computer modems or financial advice publications (it’s actually registered for that).

5 – The application will almost certainly be rejected because of the extensive prior use of the term by others. There were two prior attempts by others to register the term, and both were rejected.

6 – If the application should happen to be approved, it must then be published for opposition by anyone who thinks they will be hurt by the registration. I would not be surprised to see oppositions galore, in the unlikely event that some examiner misses the extensive generic use of the term.

Bottom line – yes, he should know better, and if he really tries to enforce the “mark” in court he’ll find that out.

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