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Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Registration of Immoral and Scandalous Trademarks

Note: try not to be scandalized, but this post contains bad language. You can determine for yourself whether or not it’s immoral. OK, read on… Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on the registration of disparaging terms as trademarks. That decision, in the case Matal v. Tam, held that part of §1052(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, or just PTO) from registering terms that are disparaging as trademarks, is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. The Lanham Act is the U.S. Federal law that covers trademarks. On June…

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What Do RPG Streamers Need to Know About the Law?

Streaming role-playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) has become a big business in recent years. What legal considerations do RPG streamers have to keep in mind as they launch and monetize their shows? What is RPG streaming? RPG streaming occurs when a group of people plays a role-playing game online for public consumption. Sometimes the streamers are all playing together in the same room; sometimes they’re remote from each other and playing together using video chat software (like Google Hangout). Streaming can be live or time-delayed (VOD) and can include both video and audio or just audio (the latter, essentially,…

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Is a Webpage “Use in Commerce” for Trademark Purposes?

In order to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you need to show that the trademark has been used in interstate commerce*. (Interstate commerce means between states.) So what counts as “use in commerce” is a big question in trademark law. Of course, many businesses are primarily or entirely online these days. So often the best way to show the USPTO that you’re using your mark in commerce is simply to take a screenshot of your website. But does that always work? A recent case reminds us to be careful about the webpage or your…

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$150 Million Peloton Lawsuit Shows How Companies May Have Unexpected IP Liability

Peloton is the manufacturer of a wildly popular home exercise bike that includes the ability to stream exercise classes. The company is heading towards an IPO at a roughly $8 billion valuation, so it’s safe to say this product – and the streaming service – is a hit. So is Peloton primarily a company that manufactures and sells fitness products, or are they an entertainment/media company? Businesses that are entering the market with products that include a streaming media component need to think of themselves as being in both worlds. In March 2019, several major music publishers filed a lawsuit…

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