Thursday, April 2, 2009

Trademark ownership

An interesting decision about trademark ownership. What's interesting about it is that the judge ruled that trademark use trumped a registered trademark. A lot of companies have been treating trademarks as if registration, however recent, trumped all common use no matter how long-term and well-established. The judge here threw that reasoning out, ruling that the Dallas Cowboys, even though they didn't have a formal registration on the phrase "America's Team", nonetheless owned it by virtue of long use of the phrase and it's association with the team. This overturned the relatively recent registration of that phrase as a trademark by another company.

This is good news for people who've been using names and phrases associated with their products. When someone else comes along, registers that name or phrase as a trademark and tries to usurp your usage on the grounds that a registered trademark trumps an unregistered one, you can point to this decision and say "The courts say otherwise.".

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