The PTO is not your personal bodyguard!

When you’ve filed an intent-to-use trademark application, it’s generally unwise to make a public statement to the effect that despite having filed the application, you in fact have no such intent whatsoever. But that’s exactly what America’s most recently humiliated politician’s wife, Jenny Sanford, has done.  Politico reported yesterday that Ms. Sanford, in a clearly misguided effort to “protect [her] family’s privacy,” filed an application with the PTO for JENNY SANFORD, for “Product merchandising to be sold at on-line retail store featuring clothing, mugs and other household items; stickers, decals, notepads.”  But when questioned by Politico about the application, Ms. Sanford replied that “there was never an intention to profit off this trademark or sell merchandise.”

SAY WHAT?  Sounds like a voidable application to me.  (Check out John Welch’s warnings about bona fide intent as a possible ground for opposition.)

Jenny, let’s talk.  (I’ve got your number).  Look, your husband may be a philandering hypocritical nincompoop, but that does not give you license to waste PTO resources.  Here is the deal: filing an application with the PTO is not the way you prevent the “inappropriate use” of your name and “product placement going forward” if you have no bona fide intent to use your name as a trademark.  Having a trademark application on file when you have publicly admitted to your lack of such intent, although nowhere as titillating as saying you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail when in reality you’re shacking up with your Argentine mistress with flights paid by taxpayers, is still an abuse of public resources.

I’m sure that in reality Ms. Sanford filed the application at the suggestion of well-meaning but clueless supporters who probably said something like “you should copyright your name to protect it,” perhaps to prevent against her name appearing in a domain name, but Glenn Beck just found out the hard way that that tactic fails in the face of the First Amendment.  So please, it must have been a very troubling period for you, with everyone around you trying to give advice, but really, amid all the turmoil, I think this was pretty low on the priority list.  Now that you’ve admitted to having no intent to use the mark as required to support a registration, the wisest course would simply be to let the application become abandoned.  Just my .02.

An interesting side issue for trademark geeks is that this application provides yet another example of PTO inconsistency in prosecution.  Where the mark at issue consists of what appears to be a person’s name, and that name doesn’t match the name of the applicant, the examining attorney is supposed to inquire whether the applicant is the person identified by the mark.  (TMEP 1206.04(b) – Names Must Match. Consent may be presumed only where the name in the mark matches the name of the signatory. If the names do not match, the examining attorney must issue an inquiry. For example, if the name in the mark is J.C. Jones, and the application is signed by John Jones, the examining attorney must inquire whether J.C. Jones is John Jones. If applicant states that J.C. Jones is John Jones, consent is presumed. The statement that J.C. Jones is John Jones may be entered by examiner’s amendment, if appropriate.)  Here, the applicant is Jennifer Sullivan Sanford, but the examiner issued no such inquiry.  She was probably too excited to have found this newsworthy application on her plate.

Oh dear, I don’t think you meant to say that . . .

As my faithful blog readers (Hi Dad!) know, I have a lot of foreign language study under my belt.  The French you’re no doubt aware of, but I also studied Spanish, German, Russian and Hebrew, not to mention the few words of Bahasa Indonesia I picked up when I spent two months there in 1984 working for a law firm that represented Bank Indonesia.  I consider my accumulated skills in those languages to be an asset for my clients: I have often steered clients away from marks that, while innocuous or nonsensical in English, are obscene or otherwise offensive in other languages.

These guys should’ve checked with me first:

Unless, of course, you consider Wiener or PeePee a good brand for a knife.

Wonderful – it’s PH8!

I caught news of a new clothing store called PH8 in the Denver Post today.  My initial reaction was that they were trying too hard, so I thought I would check out their website to see what the story was.  Well, so far they haven’t disabused me of my first take:

PH8 brings together concepts that inspire balance, function and fashion, health and a positive vibe. The name takes its inspiration from the lucky Asian number 8, along with the symbol for infinity. The idea of fate is entwined with the brand, which looks to the future with optimism and endless possibilities.

While I was relieved to see that they’d spelled “its” properly, and certainly don’t think this brand rises (or sinks, as it were) to the level of Teenflo for clothing, the explanation for the name is pretty tortured.  On the other hand, PH8 is being launched by Bebe, (another brand for women’s clothing I’ve never quite grasped) as a replacement for its Bebe Sport line. Yippee, more go-anywhere yoga wear!  

Still, I wonder if whether in a struggling economy it’s wise to tempt the Fates by calling them out by name  . . . Nonetheless, for research purposes, I will undertake an expedition to their Park Meadows location to determine whether their clothing will, as they promise, enable me to “live life to its fullest.”  Somehow, if it all looks like this, I doubt it:

N.B. The title of this post, bland though it may seem, is out of a song from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” called “Been a Long Day,” and I was proud to portray Smitty in the Fox Lane High School performance of the musical – long before the Broadway revival starring Matthew Broderick.

Excuses

One of the many reasons for which I’m grateful to have married my husband is that we have the same, i.e., limited, interests in sports.  We hate football, are mildly interested in basketball, will watch hockey only until the moment blood flows or teeth are broken – and love baseball.  Marc is a Dodger (LA, not the real ones) fan, and although for most of my life I have followed the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the Mets, my practice is to become a fervent supporter of the home team wherever we’ve lived.  So that means 15+ years as a Mariners fan, and the last two seasons following the Rockies.

Obviously, with such a background, I hate the Yankees.  Few public figures disgust me as much as George Steinbrenner and Rudy Giuliani, and the latter’s leering dentition creeped me out during the playoff season.

But what’s a girl to do when the damn Phillies beat both the Rockies and the Dodgers?  I couldn’t simply turn around to root for them, so alas, I grudgingly allotted my cheers to the Yankees.  Maybe it was just A-Rod’s channeling Edgar Martinez at the plate, maybe it was sheer loyalty to my roots.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel dirty, though.  So in tribute to all that’s icky and unsanitary about baseball, I offer you the baseball dugout mainstay, ever so appropriately named:

Destination: The darker side of Disney?

A visit to Disney World would not be complete without numerous unnecessary purchases.  Let’s just say that we narrowly escaped coming home with a pith helmet in tow (and you know I’m using the term “we” generously).  One of Disney’s more charming inducements to purchase is its ten-year tradition of pin trading.  You buy a lanyard and a character or attraction-themed pin, and the World is your trading oyster.  Our oldest had started a lanyard on an earlier visit, and both girls were eager to acquire and trade pins this time, especially after I’d bribed them with the promise of a pin for each book completed by the end of the trip.

Disney’s always busy cross-marketing, and this time there was a lot of Tinkerbell merchandise to be found in the stores – apparently Tinkerbell is the new “hot” character being promoted in her own movie and all over a wide variety of clothing and accessories

Apparently Tink has undergone a metamorphosis to become less mute and decorative and more sassy and empowered.  While in theory that’s a laudable goal, the Tinkerbell pin I found suggests that she might have gone a bit overboard with the sassy.  Yes, I think Disney’s moved into at least the PG-13 realm with this one – Introducing Truckstop Hooker Tink:

Well, at least that’s what we called her for the duration of the trip.  But Morning-after Tink would work, don’t you think?  How about Amsterdam Red-light Tink (my precocious 13 year-old’s suggestion)? Place Pigalle Tink?

For my money, she’s way more fun than a pith helmet.  But seriously, Disney, did you think about this?  Did you look at her?  If this is sassy, I don’t think sassy means what you think it means.

Destination: Norway (actually, Epcot at Disney World)

So this year’s fall break took us to Disney World.  With the opportunity to sample food and wine from around the world at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, I couldn’t object. It was indeed an excellent trip, with a few trademark-related items of note.

Having a few languages besides English under my belt can be a blessing and a curse, I sometimes find.  My mind twists the meaning of words, brands, and names among the languages in which I call myself a dilettante, until there’s a veritable cacophony going on inside my head.  So when we visited the Norway pavilion at Epcot (herring! herring!), I saw this candy bar and cacophony erupted:

I don’t speak Swedish (turns out the shop does not discriminate among Scandinavian companies and their products), but I do speak French, and in French, “daim” means “suede.”  So I’m thinking the name either sounds like “damn” or means “suede,” and I get so confused and then it’s time for our dinner reservation and I didn’t buy the daim thing and apparently, according to my food guru David Lebovitz, I’ve made a big mistake because this candy is just delicious.

Oh well, when Ikea opens here in a few years, I’ll have my chance again.  I’ll just be prepared for the cerebral onslaught the name triggers.