Forget Just Copyright, Now People Are Trademarking Music As Well

from the stop-it-before-it's-too-late dept

Ah, the world of intellectual property law is getting more and more ridiculous. The latest is that patent lawyer Carl Oppedahl has been allowed to trademark a 16-second musical introduction. The USPTO had initially pointed out that with a song that long, it seemed like it should be covered by copyright, not trademarks. But Oppedahl pushed them on this, pointing out that other long recordings have been trademarked as well. Still, if this catches on, it could become an issue. You could see a potential case where a musician could try to get around compulsory license rules for covers by claiming trademark on the work, and using that to block others from performing the song. That would set up quite an epic court battle, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it come to pass before too long.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 6:08am

    Lets not forget the "dilution" problem also.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jon B. (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 6:19am

    big deal?

    I didn't click through to the article, but I don't see the big deal on this one. Trademark doesn't prevent people from copying the the 16-second song. It just prevents people from using it in commerce in a confusing way.

    What's more ridiculous: trademarking a longer 16-second musical composition or trademarking a shorter series of 3 notes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 6:33am

    It is the recording that is trademarked

    You could see a potential case where a musician could try to get around compulsory license rules for covers by claiming trademark on the work,

    My interpretation of the original link is that it is the recording that is trademearked. Another musician performing the same work would fall outside the scope of trademark protection unless the resulting recording was indistinguishable from the original.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tracker1 (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 11:05am

      Re: It is the recording that is trademarked

      Trademark covers dilusion of brand, which would include similar works... for example MS's suit against Lindows.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 12:58pm

      Re: It is the recording that is trademarked

      Trademarks (musical or otherwise) don't have to be exactly alike to create a likelihood of confusion, and therefore be infringing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    cc (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 6:54am

    You missed this interesting tidbit: "the trademark office did not require any information on whether Oppedahl is the composer or copyright owner"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ima Fish (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 7:21am

      Re:

      It doesn't matter, there are plenty of examples of trademarks where the copyrights were held by different entities. I'm still shocked that Paramount has a trademark on the Frankenstein monster. The one with the flat head and the bolts coming out of his neck.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Atomic Kommie Comics (profile), 4 Oct 2010 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Trademark on the Frankenstein Monster...

        "I'm still shocked that Paramount has a trademark on the Frankenstein monster. The one with the flat head and the bolts coming out of his neck."

        !) Universal Pictures (not Paramount) has a trademark on the makeup design, not the character.
        ANYONE can do a "Frankenstein" movie, tv series, novel, comic, etc. (The original novel is Public Domain)
        It's just that the Monster can't LOOK like the version from the Universal film series!
        Go to the Internet Movie DataBase to see how many different versions there have been since the first Universal Frankenstein in 1931!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 6:55am

    Forget trademarks sign your soul to me now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mike allen (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 7:31am

    i cant see this working with standared lengh songs (eg. 3 minutes ) at least in the UK as it is a trade mark no radio station could play it as it then becomes an advertisment. of course if the artist paid for the air time...... o wait thats how it should be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike Brown, 1 Oct 2010 @ 7:39am

    Apples and Oranges

    Trademark and copyright are two different things. Carl Oppedahl wasn't trying to protect the music, as music - the copyright belongs to someone else and he has a license to use it - he was trying to protect the use of that music as an identifier for his talks.

    There's nothing new or unusual about this. The Harlem Globetrotters registered the tune "Sweet Georgia Brown" as a trademark for "entertainment services in the nature of basketball exhibitions". Going back even further, part of the William Tell Overture is registered for "entertainment services, namely, a continuing drama show distributed over television, satellite, audio, and video media" - Hi Yo Silver, Away!

    That doesn't stop someone from singing "Sweet Georgia Brown" or an orchestra from performing "William Tell", it just means no other basketball team or TV show can use those themes in connection with their services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 8:16am

    If this catches on? If? IF??!!

    Holy shit, what's that rumbling sound.... get out of the way, STAMPEDE !!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 9:07am

    All your base are belong to us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2010 @ 12:55pm

    Nothing new. Think of the three-note NBC xylophone (vibraphone?) musical mark.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Josh Taylor, 1 Oct 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Blocking people from singing a trademarked song will require surveillance cameras to be installed in homes to monitor their personal or family activities to determine whether if they sing a trademarked lyric that would be considered a trademark infringement.

    I think Weird Al Yankovic, and Cletus T. Judd will be both going to prison since they're parodying a trademarked lyric.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Allaun Silverfox (profile), 2 Oct 2010 @ 7:48pm

    So I suppose it's similar to.......

    Never gonna give you up
    Never gonna let you down
    Never gonna run around and desert you! :p just thought it deserved mentioning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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