I’m still alive*

Nancy’s all-too-kind words today were a sharp kick in the butt to remind me that it’s time to get back in the blogging saddle.  And I do, in fact, have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. (Translation: photos snapped on my BlackBerry that I should download).

First is this:

The littlest Levy pointed these out, and asked “how can they call them that?” Without a good explanation for this apparent coexistence with Fig Newtons, I decided to make one up (and THAT, my friends, is the secret of good parenting!): Paul Newman and his blue eyes can do whatever they want, even posthumously.
And the second is much more trademark-geek-oriented:
So I picked up these chestnuts during the holiday season, thinking “Hey, Galil – that must mean they’re Israeli chestnuts, right,” since Galil is the Hebrew word for Galilee, the northern part of Israel. Anyone who lived on a kibbutz in Israel would think that, right? Well, wrong. A close examination of the packaging showed that these chestnuts are from China, imported by a Syosset, NY company. So this naturally piqued my interest, since the packaging shows that GALIL is a registered trademark.
A closer examination of the PTO’s record for the GALIL trademark registration confused me even further: You see, the PTO had apparently (the file history is incomplete, but you can tell) issued an office action asking, as they often do, whether the term sought to be registered has any geographical significance, or any meaning in a foreign language. Here’s the lawyer’s response”

I call bullshit. This lawyer should have known better and probably did. This is both a prime example of chutzpah and a prime example of the PTO being too damn lazy to do the proper research themselves. This response was filed in 2000, and the internet was available. Hell, geographic dictionaries were available. If these products didn’t come from the Galil (and they don’t now), this application should have been refused under section 2(e)(3) as geographically misdescriptive. I don’t see why this is anything other than fraud on behalf of the trademark applicant, and gross negligence on the part of the PTO. This kind of registration clogs the register, and can unfairly empower unscrupulous and overzealous owners of such registrations to bully other users.
But what I really don’t understand? How was Empire Kosher Poultry, two years later, able to secure registration for GALIL, with a statement saying that GALIL is Hebrew for “Galilee,” WHEN ITS PRODUCTS DO NOT COME FROM THE GALILEE? The Galilee is full of farms – how could any food product bearing the name “Galilee” not run into problems under the TTAB’s stated standards:
(1) the mark’s primary significance is a generally known geographic location; and (2) … the relevant public would be likely to make a goods/place association, i.e., would be likely to think that the goods originate (or will originate) in the place named in the mark.

I, a member of the relevant public, an educated consumer and world traveler, assumed that Galil chestnuts came from Israel. This to me is a living example of PTO failure. Particularly since I recently received a refusal to register on geographic misdescriptiveness grounds that had me metaphorically kicking and screaming in my response to the PTO (I won, so there.) But sometimes I think the PTO pulls this kind of crap just to keep my mind active. Apparently it’s working!
UPDATE: Pam Chestek digs deeper and finds out exactly how Fig Newmans got their name!
*No reference to any ill health intended; I just like how the phrase makes me think of this excellent rock anthem.