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.

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