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Jesus jeans, Dilbert, Crocs, SHIELD and Game of Thrones

James Nurton

Managing IP’s daily round-up of IP news on the web today takes in a fight over the Jesus jeans trade mark, Dilbert’s dig at patent juries, the registration of the Crocs trade mark in Israel, reactions to the SHIELD Act in the United States and confusion over comments by the Game of Thrones director

What would Jesus® do?

Jesus jeans logoWhile registering the trade mark Jesus has failed in many countries, Italian company BasicNet apparently succeeded in the US when it was granted trade mark registration number 3232057 in 2007 for the word Jesus in class 25 for clothing and sportswear. So when Michael Julius Anton of Virginia attempted to trade mark Jesus Surfed for clothing, he quickly discovered that BasicNet-owned company Jesus Jeans wasn’t going to let him do so without a fight. Not very Jesus-like perhaps, but it’s still a bit of a stretch to claim that the company has monopolised all rights to the name Jesus. And it seems like the company has some competition. Michael Bagby of Maryland has had a US registration number 76305357 since 2008 for the mark Jesus Jeans for jeans - although the two may have already have worked out an agreement.

Patents make the funnies

The US comic strip Dilbert yesterday poked fun at US patent juries – specifically their inability to do the kind of math it takes to figure out patent damages awards. This problem was highlighted in the epic Apple v Samsung battle, where the lack of detail provided with the jury’s $1.05 billion damages award to Apple raised more than a few eyebrows, not to mention an appeal to the Federal Circuit. The presence of juries in US patent cases remains bemusing to those of us in other countries, as a recent poll we ran showed, but they will stay – whether or not the members can add up.

Israel performs U-turn on Crocs trade mark

Crocs shoeIsrael has overturned its policy on 3D trade marks, reports the IP Factor blog, allowing the registration of the Crocs sandal four years after it was rejected. It seems the difference was a large volume of evidence, a change in attitude generally and a new IP arbitrator in Israel, Yaara Shoshani Caspi. Whether the Crocs design is functional or aesthetic, and how this compares to Crocs failing in a Venice court recently, is all discussed by Michael Factor. But did we really also need to know that Michael bought Havaianas in Brazil for his family, and that he was a “fashion leader” in wearing Dr Martens in college?

Lion lies down with lamb

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Microsoft make unlikely bedfellows, but they are united this week in their support for the SHIELD Act re-introduced into the US House of Representatives by Rep Peter DeFazio and Rep Jason Chaffetz. EFF called the plan to force patent trolls to pay defendants’ legal fees if they lose “a great first step” while Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez described it as “an interesting effort to address a real problem and ... a thoughtful contribution to the debate about how to curb litigation abuse”. The brief Act provides for the award of reasonable attorney’s fees in cases where the plaintiff loses, unless the patent owner is the original inventor, is exploiting the patent or is a university or technology transfer organisation. I suspect this will need some more thought and revision before it wins wider acceptance.

David’s digital debate – the sequel

Game of ThronesWebsites such as mashable, the Sydney Morning Herald and TechSpot were among those to note comments made by Game of Thrones director David Petrarca at a Writer’s Festival in Perth this week. According to reports, Petrarca said that downloading didn’t matter because it created a “cultural buzz”. Inevitably, given his show’s popularity in certain groups (it was the most pirated TV show last year) his comments quickly circulated online. Unfortunately, it seems he was misunderstood. Petrarca took to twitter repeatedly to clarify: “I am 100% against illegal downloading. I said that downloading creates buzz but def am NOT in support of illegal downloads.” Illegal – important word that.


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