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Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Trademark

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“Where seldom is heard a discouraging word?” Supreme Court Allows the Federal Registration of Disparaging Trademarks

Posted in Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated the statutory bar against the federal registration of disparaging trademarks, on the ground that it violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutional. What does this mean for businesses in general, including, in particular, broadcasters and the Washington DC National Football League franchise? History of the Case The case involved… Continue Reading

It’s March Madness! … It’s April Madness! … Be Wary of Using the NCAA’s Trademarks

Posted in Advertising Issues, Trademark
Less than a week ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association filed a trademark infringement action in federal court against a company that runs online sports-themed promotions and contests under the marks “April Madness” and “Final 3.”  The NCAA is seeking injunctive relief, damages, the defendant’s profits, punitive damages and an award of attorneys’ fees. Last year,… Continue Reading

As Super Bowl Approaches, Advertisers Should Be Aware of The NFL’s Efforts to Protect Its Golden Goose – 2017 Update

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Last year, we posted some guidelines about engaging in or accepting advertising or promotions that directly or indirectly alludes to the Super Bowl without a license from the NFL. We are at that time of year again, so here is an updated version of our prior post. In addition to the monies it receives annually… Continue Reading

Advertise Like Santa Is Watching – 6 Holiday Advertising/Marketing Tips to Help You Stay Off The Naughty List

Posted in Advertising Issues, Children's Programming and Advertising, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations, Trademark, Website Issues
It’s the holiday season, and many of us are turning our thoughts to celebrating with friends and family. It is also high season for shopping, which means the airwaves, social media, websites and print pages are full of opportunities to buy, sell, and advertise. Whether you consider that to be a feature or a bug,… Continue Reading

Legal Issues in Digital and Social Media – Identifying the Landmines for Broadcasters and Other Media Companies – A Video Webinar

Posted in Advertising Issues, Appearances, Children's Programming and Advertising, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Privacy, Trademark, Website Issues
Almost every week, we write about some legal issue that arises in digital and social media – many times talking about the traditional media company that did something that they shouldn’t have done in the online world, and ended up with some legal issues as a result. Two weeks ago, I conducted a webinar, hosted… Continue Reading

Accepting Advertising for Marijuana or Marijuana Paraphernalia:  The Trademark Office Rules on a Related Issue that Provides More Reason For Caution

Posted in Advertising Issues, Trademark
As David Oxenford has previously commented, even in states where marijuana has been legalized, broadcasters should be cautious about accepting advertising for marijuana or related paraphilia.  Specifically, decisions by the FDA and the Department of Justice have done little to cut through the smoke shrouding the issue.  Now, perhaps the last United States agency that… Continue Reading

Upcoming Seminar on Digital and Social Media Legal Issues for Broadcasters – and Thoughts About Profiting From Trademarks

Posted in Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Trademark, Website Issues
Tomorrow afternoon eastern time, I will be conducting a webinar for at least 20 state broadcast associations on legal issues for broadcasters in their social and digital media efforts.  We’ll talk about many of the potential legal landmines that can be hidden in these new media efforts, many of which we have written about here… Continue Reading

Reminder: Free Webinar Next Week on Trademark Law – Protect Your Slogans and Brands

Posted in Advertising Issues, Appearances, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
The protection of brands, slogans, positioning statements and program titles must be a high priority of any electronic media company. These assets establish the identity of any broadcaster, webcaster or other media company.  Media companies need to protect these assets through the rights accorded by trademark law.  We have been running a series of articles on… Continue Reading

Trademark Tuesday, Election Day Special – Trademark Tales from the Campaign Trail

Posted in Advertising Issues, Trademark
With Election Day finally upon us, we wait in anticipation (and with a fair amount of nail biting) as the fate of our country is decided. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for some trademark fun, looking at how law and trademarks can collide. But first, a reminder — don’t forget to dial into… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics, Halloween Special: Tips and Tales From the Trademark Crypt

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
Over the last few weeks, we’ve offered insights about how you can stay out of legal hot water by establishing good practices with regard to your company’s trademark portfolio (see Part 5 of our Trade Basics series here, which contains links at the end to the other parts of the series). Unfortunately, not all companies have… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics, Part Five: Trademarks on the Internet

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, On Line Media, Television, Trademark, Website Issues
Once you have identified your marks and sought protection through registration for some or all of them, there are still going to be other issues that you will need to consider. Trademark owners have an obligation to police their marks and take steps to stop infringers. Otherwise, they may run the risk that someone else… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics Part 4: Trademark Housekeeping 101 – Conducting a Trademark Audit

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
Last week, we discussed the benefits of federally registering your trademarks.  But having a few federal registrations under your belt doesn’t mean your task of building a valuable trademark portfolio is complete.  There are several additional steps you can take to make sure you are managing your trademarks wisely and getting the most value from… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics, Part Three: Nine Benefits of Federally Registering Your Trademarks (and How to Register)

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
In last week’s Part Two of our series on Trademark Basics, we discussed the benefits of conducting a clearance search to try to ensure that the mark you are considering adopting doesn’t infringe on the rights of anyone else. Say the results of your clearance search have come back clean and, according to your trusted… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics, Part Two:  How Trademark Searches Can Keep You Out Of Legal Hot Water

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
In last week’s article beginning this series on Trademark Basics, we gave an overview of trademark basics and discussed why building up a strong trademark portfolio should be an important part of any media company’s overall business strategy.  This week, we will discuss why identifying marks that you may use must be a key feature… Continue Reading

Legal Issues for Digital Audio Companies – A Presentation

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Trademark, Website Issues
This week, I was given 15 minutes at the RAIN (Radio and Internet Newsletter) Summit in Nashville to summarize all of the legal issues that are important to digital audio companies including webcasters and podcasters.  While getting everything into a presentation that short entailed some speed talking and the briefest description of many very complicated… Continue Reading

Trademark Basics for Media Companies, Part One: What Trademarks Are and Why They Matter

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
In today’s digital economy, trademarks are often the most valuable assets that a business owns.  For example, in 2015, Google’s trademark portfolio was estimated to be worth $76 billion, which constituted almost one third of the entire value of the company.  Microsoft clocked in at $67 billion, with Verizon close behind at almost $60 billion. … Continue Reading

Stephen Colbert Brews Up a Parody on Aggressive Protection of Olympic Trademarks

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
A few weeks ago, we wrote here about the risks of using in advertising and promotions the Olympic trademarks, symbols or marks that may suggest an association with the Olympic Games.  The Olympic Committee recently demonstrated just how serious it is about its marks, sending a letter to non-Olympic sponsor companies, warning them  that they… Continue Reading

Dirty Dancing with Trademark Rights: How Pop Culture References in Ads Can Raise Legal Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Prospective advertisers come to your station and describe their ideas for local ads. A realtor’s ad ends with “There’s no place like home.” A boat builder says he will tell buyers, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” And, a used car salesperson wants to say “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.”… Continue Reading

Avoiding Olympic Hassles – Trademark and Other Legal Protections Limit the Use of Olympics, Paralympics and Related Terms in Advertising, Marketing, and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
Over the last several months, we have written about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the SUPER BOWL® or MARCH MADNESS® without first asking the NFL or the NCAA, respectively, for permission to use those marks.  With millions of viewers about to tune into the OLYMPIC® games in… Continue Reading

Can You Trademark A State’s Name? Can Such a Trademark Affect a Broadcast Program Title or Other Product Names?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark
Can the name of a state be trademarked so that no one else can use it in a particular line of business? Last week, in connection with the denial of the trademark application filed by the producers of the podcast SERIAL, we wrote about the difficulty of trademarking brands that are descriptive of the product… Continue Reading

SERIAL Trademark Denied – Should One of the Most Popular Podcasts Ever Be Able to Protect Its Name?

Posted in Intellectual Property, On Line Media, Trademark
This article was written by two new contributors to the Blog, trademark attorneys Radhika “Ronnie” Raju and Kelly Donohue. According to the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the answer is “No,” as the PTO recently refused an application by the producer of the podcast to register the mark SERIAL for an ongoing audio program, finding… Continue Reading

It’s March Madness! Know the NCAA’s Rulebook or Risk A Foul Call Against the Unauthorized Use of Its Trademarks

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Two months ago, I wrote here about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the Super Bowl” without approval of the NFL. Now, with the NCAA Basketball Tournament about to begin, broadcasters, publishers and other businesses need to be multiply wary about potential claims arising from their use terms… Continue Reading

As The Golden Super Bowl Approaches, Be Aware of The NFL’s Efforts to Protect Its Golden Goose from Unauthorized Ads and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, broadcasters and other media companies are planning advertising and promotions around the big game.  Here is some advice to broadcasters from Mitchell Stabbe, a lawyer from my firm who has spent over 30 years counseling businesses on trademark issues, about legal cautions to consider in finalizing your plans: In addition to… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Rules that Prohibition Against Federal Registration of Disparaging Trademarks is Unconstitutional Restriction of Free Speech

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark, Website Issues
A recent Court of Appeals decision that could have an impact on the Washington Redskins trademark dispute about their team name, is covered in the following article by my law partner, Mitchell Stabbe, who specializes in trademark law.  He writes about a case where the Court determined that a trademark rule that has led to… Continue Reading