Logo and Trademark Violation
We hear lots of stories about logo and trademark violation -- most of
them exaggerated -- concerning absurd decisions by judges and juries; and
some unscrupulous lawyers make enormous amounts of money preying on people
by telling those stories. These cases are the exception, not the rule.
It's not surprising that out of millions of cases argued in court every
year we have notoriously stupid decisions.
If a dispute over a logo went to a trial, the "reasonable person"
criterion would prevail. That is, would a reasonable person say that this
representation of the logo was sufficiently similar to the plaintiff's that
a customer might confuse the defendant's product with the plaintiff's? If
so, a violation has taken place, which any reasonable person would
In the case of the Artemis Society, for instance, no matter what
graphics were used, if you received a solicitation with an organization
calling itself the Artemis Society, and it wasn't the one we know registered
as a non-profit corporation in Alabama, there would be a violation afoot.
Similarly, if anyone plastered the words "Moonbase Artemis" across the face
of the moon, any reasonable judge would conclude this was a trademark
infringement. We can't lay exclusive claim the name of the goddess, but we
can carve out our territory for the areas we're working in. As long as
there's no confusion in the consumer's mind, nobody loses anything so
there's no problem.
A broader example would be calling anything "Coca-Cola" that
isn't owned by the Coca-Cola company. No matter what your logotype looked
like, a jury would award your hide to the folks that work so hard to
publicize their logo. Of course, Coca-Cola has the resources to sue you
into oblivion even if you win the case.
Sabin Entertainment, which owns the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, is in
the same situation. They said they out-spend trademark violators 10 to 1,
which keeps counterfeit Power Rangers merchandise off the market. That's
why there's a huge chunk of money in the budget estimates for the Artemis
Project for lawyers.
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Updated Sun, Aug 15, 1999.