Geekview: Cheeky Coverage of Recent(ish) Intellectual Property News

Posted by | August 08, 2012 | General | No Comments

Kirstie Alley loses 100 pounds and all her credibility.

What Kirstie Alley needs is someone to rescue her from herself. Or at least from her Organic Liaison brand, for which she’s been sued for false advertising in a class action lawsuit brought by — well, on behalf of — everyone who’s ever purchased her Organic Liaison Weight Loss Program. The promo, um, infers (if that term means states) that Kirstie Alley lost 100 pounds using the Rescue Me Kit, which costs a minimum of $34.90. In response, the lawsuit states that “Defendants falsely market the Organic Liaison Program as a weight-loss aide, and then charge a premium for supplements that are nothing more than run-of-the-mill fiber and calcium supplements.” Just when you thought Kirstie turned the corner . . . going from Fat Actress to Dancing with the Stars . . . from eating for three to popping weight loss pills . . . oh, such progress! Wasted. But you know what’s even worse than lying to people to sell them shit, or in this case fiber and calcium, which will make them shit? Selling your soul to your company! (And we thought corporate personhood was bad!). Though Kirstie Alley controls Organic Liaison, Organic Liaison owns Kirstie Alley. Specifically, it owns the right to use KIRSTIE ALLIE for TV appearances and weight loss and weight management programs. Well, we shall see about that last part, which I think might be debatable. The better we try to live, the more they seem to lie to us . . .

Fructose-filled filling flop.

If you’re going to call your product natural, its ingredients better have come from the ground. Especially if you wanna sell it in California. Despite the corn refiner’s finest PR attempts and surely astronomical legal bills, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) does NOT grow in the ground. Both HFCS and Maltodextrin are found in Nature Valley granola bars, which are promoted as “Natural” products, though they contain unnatural (and unhealthy) ingredients. A couple California moms caught on to this and hired themselves a scientist. The scientist proved that HFCS and Maltodextrin require multiple processing steps in an industrial environment to transform them from starches into substances that are not found in nature and thus cannot be described as “natural.” (HFCS also cannot be described as “corn sugar” as discussed here and here and here and here.) Nature Valley products also don’t make you thin, even though they’re called “Thins.” Hard to imagine how he Plaintiff’s overlooked that argument since THINS is the biggest word on the box. I wonder who will fold first . . .

Waffle War!

Bruxie is all bent out of shape at Atlanta’s folded waffle imitator. Bruxie is a fancy California sandwich shop (with 3 shops, actually) that makes waffle sandwiches. (Oh My God, Yum!) Justin Lim is an Atlanta restaurateur. He founded the successful yogurt chain Yoforia in 2007 and a gone-bust burger joint called Burger Tap, and he happens to love waffles. So much so that after being inspired by Bruxie’s success, he chose to “introduce the waffle sandwich concept to Atlanta” under the brand Waffold. Too bad he originally did so using Bruxie’s federally registered tagline, GOURMET WAFFLE  SANDWICHES on signage and other promotion. The GOURMET WAFFLE SANDWICH mark is registered on the Supplemental Register, which is an admission that it does not yet have brand recognition or what we trademark types call “secondary meaning.” Since Bruxie hasn’t bothered to use the TM, SM  or ® symbols (more info here) in connection with GOURMET WAFFLE SANDWICHES on its website, Lim & Waffold might not have known it was a registered mark or even a mark at all. That said, Waffold since dropped Gourmet from its Waffle Sandwiches (which might still be too close) and told What Now Atlanta that it is “taking the proper steps to address any trademark concerns.” Were I Justin Lim, I would be more concerned about preventing the anticipated demise of Waffold (some What Now Atlanta readers are downright nasty about it) and less concerned about remedying any alleged infringement on Bruxie’s not-yet-trademark. What’s worse: public flogging in the comments or jail time . . .

God goes to court, pastor goes to prison.

Pastor Walter McGill is passing time doing time. That’s right boys & girls. A counterfeit church won’t lead you straight to hell; it will get you there via prison! And what a way to go! Back in September, 2006 the Seventh-Day Adventists filed a lawsuit against Pastor Walter McGill, for practicing religion without a license. You see, McGill was doing business as the Creation 7th Day Adventist Church without a license from the General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists (GCCSA), which owns the SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST mark along with 38 other ADVENTIST marks, including:

ADVENTIST for “educational services,” “religious services”
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST for “printed matter,” “educational services,” “health care services”
ADVENTIST RISK MANAGEMENT for “risk management”
ADVENTIST LAWYER for “online business directories”(for when the risk managers screw up!)

The court issued a permanent injunction against McGill in May, 2009 followed by an order for sanctions in March 2011. Then came a contempt order in June, 2012 followed by two attorney’s fees awards this past July– one for the contempt order and the other for the show cause hearing. Then, in late July, McGill was sent to prison for continuing to violate the court’s orders, according to an article on the Adventist News Network® (of course that’s a registered trademark!). Meanwhile, Pastor McGill says his infringement is God’s will. He’s documented the dispute on the internet for the whole world to see, but for some reason he hasn’t thought to ask God to let the Adventists know his infringement is blessed. Leveraging that connection sure could prove useful, I’d think. Speaking of leveraging connections, you’d think J. Geils would have some with the J. Geils band . . .

Love stinks! Worst when it ends in infringement.

J. Geils is a Hard Drivin’ Man who’s feeling Rage in the Cage against his former band mates for stealing his identity. J. Geils is the nickname and stage name of John Warren Geils who founded the J. Geils Band in 1967. Well, not exactly. The band members played together during 1966 under the name Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels and eventually changed the band’s name to J. Geils Band. The band released 14 albums together and performed together as the J. Geils Band from 1967-1983. In 1999, 5 of the 6 members of the J. Geils Band, including its namesake, performed 13 shows in a J Geils Band reunion tour. They then performed 3 shows in 2009 and 1 in 2010, but were unable to agree on touring together since then. In 2009, Francesca Records, in which J. Geils is a part owner, obtained trademark registration of the J GEILS BAND mark for apparel and entertainment services. In April, 2012 T&A research & Development (owned by Geils’ former band mates) applied to register THE J GEILS BAND for sound recordings, apparel and entertainment services. On May, 2012 Geils Unlimited (also owned by Geils’ former band mates) Petitioned to Cancel Francesca’s J GEILS BAND trademark registration. In response, J. Geils sued them for declaratory judgment (of IP ownership), trademark infringement, unfair competition, and breach of fiduciary duty.  While J. Geils must wonder Where Did Our Love Go, I bet he also can’t wait till The Morning After, when the lawsuit is over and he can go back to just being himself.

 

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About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

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