Can You Trademark Awareness Of A Disease?

from the someone's-trying dept

BoingBoing has the latest story of trademark insanity, where a "charity" focused on the rare, but apparently serious disease of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), is trying to trademark the phrase "Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness" and appears to be threatening other charities for using the phrase, and (according to this petition) has filed complaints to get fundraising stores shut down for using the phrase. The whole thing is so bizarre, and so far outside the purpose of trademark law that it's really difficult to understand how this issue could have gone as far as it has. But, you have to say one thing for the charity doing this: they have "raised awareness" of CDH.

Filed Under: awareness, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, trademark


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2009 @ 6:31am

    TMEP is an acronym for the "Trademark Manual of Examining Prodedure", the internal guidance used by trademark examiners to process trademark applications. I asked about it for a specific reason not particularly related to techdirt.

    Back in the early 80s IP law underwent a cardinal change when it was "discovered" by non-IP lawyers as a potential cash cow. Suddenly all of them were holding themselves out as experts, and from that point forward I began noticing many of the abuses that regularly appear in news reports.

    As in-house counsel for a Fortune 50 company I was constantly bombarded by attorneys trying to wine and dine me to get the company as a client. One of my small tests for trying to figure out who knew what they were talking about and who did not was to casually ask if they had a copy of the TMEP for me to take a quick look at to answer a question I had. Much more often than not I received a quizical (sp?) look, it being clear the person did not have a clue what I was talking about. That look sealed the deal...no deal if he/she did not know about one of the most basic resources needed to practice trademark law. This exemplifies in large measure part of the problem that underlies many of the problems you and others write about.

    By the was, I happen to be a person who happens to practice law. My purpose in posting comments about the law that some seem to interpret as being argumentative is merely for the sake of accuracy. It is impossible to gauge what is and what is not a real issue without an accurate understanding of what the law entails. In this specific instance the linked site was started by an individual who is not familiar with the ins and outs of trademark law, and in situations such as this passion tends to overcome reason. People begin to say the law is an a**, which in this case is incorrect.

    By the way, I am heartened you know about the commerce clause, not because it is the genesis for trademark law, but because it demonstrates your sensitivity to one of the most important powers of Congress that is regularly abused under pressure from special interest groups.

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