I love the website techdirt www.techdirt.com. Mike Masnick, who runs the site, is a thoughtful commentator on the ways that technology shapes our lives. Yesterday, Mike conveyed a report from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER on the potentially epic battle underway between Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brother Studios over the movie The Wizard of Oz. Disney, not WB plans to make a new version of the famous classic.
What caught my eye was the aggressive trademark strategy that WB has adopted. The article states that WB has filed many oppositions in the United States Trademark Office during the past year. Many of these oppositions involved characters from the movie The Wizard of Oz.
All well and good you might say. Unless your name is Jeffrey Fannin. And you have developed a series of non-fiction books and workshops in the field of neuroscience. And you named the series IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN. And you decided to federally register IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN for your books and workshops.
Then you would find that WB (through its subsidiary) has opposed your efforts. Based on their federal registration? Nope. They ain’t got one. Ok so they claim common law rights in the phrase IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN. Based on what goods or services? Glad you asked: WB claims that its licensees have been using the phrase on “ a wide variety of goods including printed materials, clothing, mugs, and related products” Any specific examples included? Nope.
If you were mildly curious you could do a Google search for the term “ if I only had a brain”.
You would find any number of places to buy an IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN
T-shirt. Some of the sites may be authorized. Many of the others almost certainly are not. On eBay you would find dinner plates, music boxes, decorative pillows, shot glasses, and a book titled IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN- deconstructing brain surgery.
So where are we? WB, fighting to control all aspects of its famous movie, adopts a scorched earth trademark strategy. With not much in the way of ammo to back it up. Consumers for movie memorabilia coffee cups and infant clothes likely to be confused by, or even be aware of, those seeking to improve their neurological capabilities?