Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small businesses have to worry about possibly frivolous trademark claims from large companies

Emily Maltby has an interesting piece in the Small Business Page, B13, of the Wall Street Journal Marketplace today (June 24), “Name choices spark lawsuits: Start-ups can get mired in costly trademark scuffles with bigger firms,” link here.

The story starts with the saga of Jimmy Winkelmann, founder of South Butt, which got a cease-and-desist from North Face for imitating its trade dress. Small businesses don’t have the money to fight even unfounded trademark claims (which almost can resemble SLAPP lawsuits!), and large companies hire staff to troll the marketplace (especially the Internet) for possible infringements, since they believe that they have spent so much money building up their brands and have a fiduciary responsibility to protect them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

TiVo-EchoStar-Dish case seen as important by some

I got a tweet this week from a party I didn’t recognize about the USPTO’s decision to reject two patnet claims by TiVo against the Dish Network and Echo Star over digital video recorders that record one program while another is being watched. The best Reuter’s story, dated June 10, is here.

A US Court of Appeals will hear the case en banc. The case is TiVo v. EchoStar, 2009-1374, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington, DC Circuit). A federal court had found earlier that Dish had infringed on the patent of TiVo.

The Comcast recorder that I lease can record two programs at a time, but c you cannot watch a third program if two other programs are being recorded simultaneously.

Susan Decker has a more detailed story for Bloomberg here.

Friday, June 04, 2010

A company offers high-end trademark searches, especially for international use

Besides the USPTO "free form" trademark search, there is a site called (belonging to Thomson) that will allow users to do professional searches.

From a quick glance, it seems a bit pricey. Here is the subscription page for one day’s service for 12 hours of searching, link.  The cheapest is $50 for 12 hours for US Federal only, and in an international world for media ventures, that may well be insufficient, say, if you’re starting a new film distribution company (where the UK, Canada, Australia and Europe would matter a lot). The services deserves exploring.