Google has been sued again for trademark infringement resulting from its AdWords program, this time by Cybersitter. Cybersitter sells software that blocks adult content on computers so they are not accessible by children.
This problem has been going on for years. Here is what happens (and actually what seems to be partially encouraged by “SEO Maximization” companies): predatory companies who use AdWords register not only the keywords pertinent to their business, but the trade name, mark, or brand of their competitors. When consumers do searches for one company, its competitor’s ads show up. Continue reading
MTV’s Real World/Road Rules star Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio has lost the lawsuit against HBO, over the rights to the nick-name “Johnny Bananas.” Devenanzio alleged that HBO’s “Entourage” used his nick-name when referring to the fake cartoon gorilla played by Kevin Dillon’s character.
The New York judge overseeing the suit dismissed the case. Apparently, Devenanzio didn’t file the “Johnny Bananas” lawsuit until 14 months after the first air date of the episode – in New York, the statute of limitations (the time frame in which a lawsuit for Devenanzio’s claims can be brought) is only 1 year.
Some news sources are calling Devenanzio a crybaby for suing over this, but owners of trademarks, copyrights, and other brand-names often must sue to protect their intellectual property rights.
In the intellectual property legal world, failing to enforce rights that you believe are yours can lead to “dilution,” meaning that your mark or brand becomes so diluted or commonplace that the rights become lost. Some good examples are Band-Aid or Kleenex. Someone needing a finger bandage or tissue paper would likely say “Give me a band-aid,” or “Give me a kleenex.” But these product names are actually brand names - “Band-Aid brand bandages” and “Kleenex brand tissue paper.” But because the brand names have been used as substitutes for the product names for so long, it is difficult to separate the two – leading to a loss of the ability to enforce the intellectual property rights associated with “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex.”
If Devenanzio really intends to secure for himself the intellectual property rights to “Johnny Bananas,” then he needs to focus on strengthening that brand, filing the necessary trademark applications, and confirming that he is the rightful owner of the “Johnny Bananas” brand — before he sues anybody else again.
LA Printex Industries is on the offensive. In four lawsuits filed on January 6, 2012, the fabric textile heavyweight brought claims against Wet Seal, Forever 21, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, TJMaxx, Filene’s Basement, and others alleging that the stores unlawfully infringed on LA Printex’ rights by copying “unique two-dimensional graphic artworks.” Unfortunately, copies of the lawsuits are not yet publicly available from the California federal court. It would be at least the second fabric copyright infringement lawsuit for Forever 21 in less than six months.
Generally, under US copyright laws, a garment generally cannot be copyrighted, but an original design or fabric pattern may be considered intellectual property that can be covered by copyright or trademark. Some reports, however, are that over the last several years, LA Printex has apparently brought over 200 lawsuits asserting fabric copyright infringement.
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Forever 21 et al., Case No. 2:12 cv 166 JFW
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. The Wet Seal, Inc. et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 31 JST
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Ross Stores, Inc. et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 165 ODW
LA Printex Industries, Inc. v. Seven Licensing Company, LLC et al. Case No. 2:12 cv 168 JAK