by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 6th 2012 1:21pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 3rd 2012 9:21am
Hey Advertisers! Stop Believing The NFL's Lies About Trademark Law And Call The Super Bowl The Super Bowl
from the suck-it-up,-weenies dept
Of course, the NFL's position is nonsense -- this is a nominative use that is just as permissible as, for example, referring to the "Chicago Bulls" instead of "the two-time world champions" or "the professional basketball team from Chicago" (Judge Kozinski's example from a different era, when the Bulls mattered).Basically, the game is called the Super Bowl, and calling it that isn't trademark infringement, so long as you don't imply that you're an official sponsor or otherwise officially associated with the game. Of course, where it gets even more ridiculous is when news organizations heed the NFL's warnings over this -- such as the email Levy received from the Boston Globe (pdf) about the Super Bowl, where the term doesn't appear at all. Levy points out that it's simply ridiculous that a news organization (and a big one with plenty of lawyers who get this) would still not use "Super Bowl." Levy suggests we start calling such ridiculousness out:
Instead of praising retailers who skate close to the edge, we should take a page from David Bollier’s excellent Brand Name Bullies and call them Brand Name Weenies. Indeed, it is disappointing that a major metropolitan newspaper that belongs to an 800 pound gorilla like the New York Times Company is unwilling to defy the NFL by using the term in in its advertising. The Times and the Globe certainly advertise their coverage of the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, also trademarked names. If big players like the Times don’t have the cojones to stand up for bullying from the NFL, they make it harder for everybody else.It's the Super Bowl. Call it the Super Bowl. Just... uh... don't have too many friends over to watch it on a big screen. Because that's copyright infringement.
In their recent book Reclaiming Fair Use, Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi warn that when we refrain from exercising our fair use rights, and act as if those rights do not exist, we help create a culture in which fair use loses ground to overly aggressive copyright enforcement. The same is true in the trademark realm. We can only hope that when the next Superbowl rolls around, the Times and its brethren, and even the HDTV sellers, will have shed their timidity.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 2nd 2012 1:26pm
from the advertisements-without-permission? dept
Sixteen of the sites in question, however, were supposedly offering video streaming -- which is what Rojadirecta was accused of doing (under a bogus legal theory, since it didn't actually offer the streams, but merely links). In this case, ICE also arrested one guy for running a streaming site:
Additionally, Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., was arrested Wednesday by special agents with HSI. He is charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright related to his operation of websites that illegally streamed live sporting event telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet. Quiroa operated nine of the 16 streaming websites that were seized, and he operated them from his home in Michigan until yesterday's arrest.Of course, this has to raise a pretty significant question: exactly how is someone streaming the Super Bowl harming... well... anyone? The entire point of the Super Bowl is to get as many people watching the advertisements as possible. Having the game streamed only increases the number of people watching those ads. Who, exactly, is harmed by this?
The website seizures during Operation Fake Sweep represent the 10th phase of Operation In Our Sites, a sustained law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. The 307 websites are in the process of being seized by law enforcement, and will soon be in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to these websites will then find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.
In discussing these particular website seizures (not the ones about counterfeiting products), ICE ridiculously declares that it's somehow protecting American ideas from being stolen. Do they even realize how idiotic that sounds? What "idea" is being stolen when someone makes it easier to watch the ads that go with the Super Bowl?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 25th 2011 9:08am
from the not-slowing-down dept
Wed, Sep 21st 2011 4:46am
from the don't-fumble-my-junk dept
But that won't keep the NFL from trying, damn it.
Dementia writes in about a Yahoo Sports post describing the new breakthrough security technique at NFL games this year: pat-downs. That's right, the NFL is going to solve security at their games by somehow patting down seventy thousand people as they enter stadiums within roughly an hour's length of time. No, the pat-downs won't be done by federal employees, just low-paid yellow jacket-wearing folks (seriously, click the article and look at the picture, it's awesome). No there aren't any metal detectors or machine screeners a la the airport. Basically, no, these security measurements won't make anyone more...you know...secure. As Chris Chase notes:
"As far as I can tell, the only purpose gate security has is to create a mass of humanity at the entrances and comb through women's purses. The pat downs are jokes. Security personnel only checked from the waist up. If they felt anything in your pocket, their most likely recourse was to ask, "what's that?" A halfway-decent answer got you a pass."And, as Chris also notes, if you think these measures are stupid now, just wait until the weather turns. I can just picture myself walking up to Soldier Field on a January morning in Chicago, seven layers deep between regular undergarments, long-underwear, longsleeve t-shirt, t-shirt, hoodie sweatshirt, down-insulated winter jacket, and my lovely Where's Waldo-esque scarf to tie it all together, and giving these security types a sideways glance as they attempt to pat me down. I could carry a 1967 Buick Skylark in my pants and they'd never feel it.
Why can't we stop this? Who are the NFL playing to with this nonsense? I'd like to think my fellow citizens and football consumers aren't so totally devoid of intelligence that they can't see how pointless and annoying this all is.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 24th 2011 10:01am
from the does-not-compute dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 21st 2010 4:19pm
from the disputes-in-140-characters dept
Case in point, Elan Arbitsman points us to the news that Twitter simply handed over the username @NFLLockout to the NFL Players Association. Some other folks had registered the name and used it to discuss a possible NFL lockout. After they had done so, the NFLPA had registered the domain name NFLLockout.com, and then sought to get the Twitter handle from the guys. They offered to give them some stuff (apparently a life-sized poster or something). When the guys turned this down, the NFLPA went to Twitter, and Twitter just handed them the username. Even worse, Twitter implied that one of the reasons they did so was because the guys tried to "sell" the username -- though they say they didn't try to sell it, they just listened to offers from the NFLPA.
As the article notes, the NFLPA doesn't own either NFL or "Lockout," so it's not entirely clear how they have a legitimate claim on the user account. I can see why the NFLPA would want the username, but it seems a bit weak that Twitter just handed it over (and scolded the original users in the process).
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 24th 2010 4:58pm
from the good-move dept
Directly relevant to this case, the teams compete in the market for intellectual property. To a firm making hats, the Saints and the Colts are two potentially competing suppliers of valuable trademarks. When each NFL team licenses its intellectual property, it is not pursuing the "common interests of the whole" league but is instead pursuing interests of each "corporation itself," Copperweld, 467 U. S., at 770; teams are acting as "separate economic actors pursuing separate economic interests," and each team therefore is a potential "independent cente[r] of decisionmaking," id., at 769. Decisions by NFL teams to license their separately owned trademarks collectively and to only one vendor are decisions that "depriv[e] the marketplace of independent centers of decisionmaking," ibid., and therefore of actual or potential competition.This makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, you could argue that any particular industry could set up an organization of which all the companies in that industry are a "member" and allow that single organization to negotiate exclusive deals, with the argument that it's "for the common interests of the whole." But, that's obviously collusion, with the intent to harm consumers. Thankfully, the Supreme Court saw through the flimsy claim that such a structure makes companies immune to antitrust law.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 29th 2010 6:18am
from the who-dat-say-dey-gonna-beat-dem-trademarks dept
"Sure, a fleur de lis can belong to the Saints, but in very specific usage, and everybody knows what that is," Monistere explained. "If you go back to 1967, to date, they have registered and used the fleur de lis in a very specific way. They put it on the Saints helmet and on the Saints 'shield.' Its colors are very specific -- they're 'old gold and black.' But for the NFL to expand that definition and say that no matter what color and what style of fleur de lis, if you put it on an item, it means Saints, it is, as many believe, is just not correct. The fleur de lis belongs to everyone including the people of New Orleans.The Monistere brothers seem particularly annoyed by the NFL bullying small t-shirt makers, saying that they're more than happy to grant licenses to those folks to produce Who Dat merchandise, and merchants have said that the NFL communication has been tremendously threatening and aggressive, while the Monistere's have been quite friendly and accommodating. In fact, the Monistere's seem particularly annoyed that the NFL is bullying small shop owners like Fleurty Girl, who received a cease-and-desist:
"Here we are going to the Superbowl for the first time in 43 years and these NFL guys are here harassing the local small businesses," Monistere said. "Their merchandise sales are well over $320 BILLION a year! The NFL has become an intellectual property company. They make money selling their logos and image. With that kind of money coming in, they focus their attention on Fleurty Girl? I don't have a problem with them protecting their intellectual property, but when they do it to the extent of trying to intimidate people into believing that the Fleur de lis is theirs -- well, that's just a bullying technique."As for the New Orleans Saints themselves? The organization there has apparently publicly said that WhoDat holds the rights on the trademark.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 11th 2010 1:29am
Quarterback Drew Brees Explains Why Supreme Court Should Block NFL From Having Exclusive Licensing Deals
from the worth-reading dept
The NFL originally won the case because the lower courts decided that, when it comes to marketing hats and gear, the 32 teams in the league act like one big company, a "single entity," and such an entity can't illegally conspire with itself to restrain trade. The NFL-Reebok deal is worth a lot of money, and fans pay for it: If you want to show support for your team by buying an official hat, it now costs $10 more than before the exclusive arrangement.Brees rips apart that argument by noting the competition he, himself, faced as a free agent -- a right that players only got after a series of court battles. This isn't a huge surprise. Like plenty of other businesses, sports leagues have a keen understanding of what monopoly rents are, and do everything possible to profit from them.
Amazingly, after the NFL won the case, it asked the Supreme Court to dramatically expand the ruling and determine that the teams act as a single entity not only for marketing hats and gear, but for pretty much everything the league does. It was an odd request -- as if I asked an official to review an 80-yard pass of mine that had already been ruled a touchdown. The notion that the teams function as a single entity is absurd; the 32 organizations composing the NFL and the business people who run them compete with unrelenting intensity for players, coaches and, most of all, the loyalty of fans.