Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ICANN's gTLD scheme could change the domain name game for companies and inviduals


ICANN has created a stir by selling new gTLD’s, closely connected to specific kinds of services or products.  The application phase (it  costs $185000 to apply) ends now, and here is ICANN’s plan for what comes next, link.

The Washington Post has a constructive editorial Tuesday critical of the idea.  One main fear is that companies will feel  “defensively” compelled to create TLD’s to strengthen their own trademarks, but not accomplishing anything of value for consumers.  Another objection is that some TLD’s could bemuse competition.  (Who will get “.grocery”?)

Still another is that corporate owners (for example, should Amazon get “.book”) could have undue influence on smaller businesses or individuals who purchase domain names with the TLD’s from them.

Back in the late 1990s, there were emerging debates on whether “.com” is overused, and could represent individuals with no commercial mass on an equal playing field with whole companies.  Search engines didn’t care.  And the use of “.org” and “.net” was certainly loose. 

The Washington Post editorial (“New Internet domain names may make for a more tangled Web”) is here

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Could casino slot machine or game names raise trademark questions?

Today, on the way back from Baltimore Gay Pride, I stopped at the new Maryland Live! casino, south of BWI airport at the Arundel Mills Mall, about 12 miles SE of Baltimore, off the old Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

It looked like small stuff compared to Las Vegas (where I was four weeks ago), and even the one floor operation looks smaller than Mystic Lake, SW of Minneapolis, which the Libertarian Party often used as a site for conventions 15 years ago.

I noticed, when walking around and looking at slot machines, that many of them have game names based on movies (such as "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"), or other board games, or TV game shows, books, or famous fictional characters (like Tarzan).  Do casino games raise trademark and licensing issues?  From games (like Monopoly) they certainly would, but would movies be viewed as separate businesses?  What about the reverse, if a movie happened to mimic a casino game in a title?

I haven't seen any slot machines with the name of my book "Do Ask Do Tell".  Would the name make sense?  But in Las Vegas, there is a casino called "Bill's Gamblin' Hall", which I not have time to visit.

(If you do go there, look at the weird monorail at Whiskey Pete's in Primm, on the Cal. border; missed getting a picture.)

Notice also the entrance ceiling lights at Live!, based on a visual concept that opens the sci-fi movie "Skyline" -- the falling UFO flares.

Maryland will probably have a larger casino (MGM Grande) at National Harbor  in PG county, on the Potomac, in a couple years. The GOP can hardly object.


Friday, June 08, 2012

Cycling, anti-auto group fights off trademark claims for parody site


With friends heavily into urban cycling (that includes Manhattan), I was amused to find that in 2007 there had been a bogus trademark dispute involving the site “Auto Show Shutdown” (link) involving the Chicago Auto Show back in 2007.

That show tried to claim that the “auto show shutdown” infringed on a “trademark” for the auto show, which was impossible to sustain because the parody was non-commercial in nature.  (If the site accepts any advertising at all, that could raise questions about commercial use.)  And the Auto Show didn’t even own its own mark, according to gumshoeing done by EFF in this article