Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sometimes domain names that parody have led to infringement claims

Here’s an older trademark case I found from a Reason article (link) by Michael Lynch all the way back in 2000. The article is called “Post No Ills” and refers to a lawsuit by U-Haul against owners of a website called “U-Hell” claiming trademark dilution and infringement after a bad move. The suit was dismissed in Arizona but refilled in Georgia. The article got linked to in a newer story about the growing list of litigation against na├»ve bloggers and webmasters.

In other words, a name that is a parody of a company name might lead to a trademark dilution claim, but the Act in 2006 has some defenses regarding parody (check the link to the law from my June 2007 posting).

I’ve had to see where this case went.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ING could use an old name for its US insurance operations effectively

Here’s a trademark thought from my own work history past. Call it a ghost of my own Christmases past (or perhaps New Years Eve's past, with Y2K 2000). I read that the Dutch financial conglomerate ING may have to sell off a lot of its insurance operations to help pay back the Netherlands for the bailout, and maybe also because there are continued bad loans in places like Dubai.

So it’s logical that ing-usa could become a separate insurance company in the US and trade on the NYSE with conventional stock under its own name. It would amount to a combination of ReliaStar and part of Aetna. It’s not clear whether the ING Direct could be part of this, or become still a differently traded company.

I think that the “old” ReliaStar brand for the Minneapolis company (from 1995-2000) would make a great brand again. (It got acquired by ING partly because Wall Street didn’t like the way certain parts of ReliaStar’s reinsurance business had been managed around the time of Y2K, and greed took over.) The wordmark is strong, and the blue trade dress was striking. The “political” problem would be whether the other pieces, many of them in Hartford and Atlanta (Aetna) would get recognition.

But from a trademark perpsecitve, ReliaStar was a great name for business.

In the meantime, I won’t try to take the name.