Legal and Political Issues
Section 3.5.
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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 agree.

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.

Legal and Political Issues

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