Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recent book on online reputation brings up some trademark issues

I plan to review the 2008 book “Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online” (Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss) soon on the books blog, but I wanted to note that some of the advice in the book bears on the ongoing debate on trademark law, Internet search engines, and domain names.

The authors provide a detailed discussion of how to take advantage of SEO, or search engine optimization, so for companies – especially smaller ones trying to become established with “brands” – wordmarks identifying companies and their products or services become very critical because their use is so likely to affect search engine results. Issues with this have sometimes appeared in court already. Skillful choice of workmarks and their use in metatags on the web is probably more effective than paying for placement.

The authors also discuss the best way for individuals to brand themselves (Ok “pinning a label on yourself” as my father used to say, as if I were Chicken Little) with domain names. To make your domain name unique, add your hometown and profession. That would answer problems where you have the same name as a celebrity. Now I can immediately think of some questions. If your profession is IT, should you get down to something like “mainframe” or “Web”? People’s careers have to shift gears so frequently these days that it sounds like you could put yourself in a box, even quicksand.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Can "Jisgsaw's" mask be trademarked?

Okay, you have a great idea for a movie “Saw 8”, or maybe “Hacksaw”, and you want to use Jigsaw’s mask in your movie.

Well, Lionsgate (and/or Twisted Pictures) surely owns a trademark on the “Saw” brand of films since it is a series, and also one on “Jigsaw” as a character, with the particular mask. (Curiously, I couldn’t find either one readily at USPTO.)

What may be more relevant is that there have been numerous defunct television series that aspiring writers would want to adapt for indie films. “Everwood” (Warner Brothers) would be a good example; another is “Jake 2.0” (UPN/CBS). It’s always seemed to me that television networks and media companies ought to set up clearinghouses to sell legal rights to characters or series they no longer want to produce. I do know that comic book publishers jealousy guard the rights to their characters.

Just a thought for the “creative.”

Now, if I wrote my own horror movie, I’d make up my own villain. I don’t need Jigsaw. (“Do you want to play a game?”)