July 11, 2005
Trademarking a Blog Name
Marty Schwimmer weighs in on whether blog names are trademarkable and whether registration is a good idea. (His answers: mostly yes and maybe).
From my perspective, trademark law is a cumbersome, expensive and unpredictable solution to managing a pool of blog names. Perhaps someone will find a way to develop a blog registry where name conflicts can be identified (and maybe even resolved) without resorting to the expensive legal system.
Until then, new blog creators are well-advised to search in places like Google and Technorati to avoid obvious conflicts. Sadly, many blog creators (like most other types of clients) won't, so lawsuits on blog names are an inevitable part of our future.
One more thing: if multiple people are operating a blog, then they should have an agreement disposing of the blog assets post-split, just like a band would have an agreement governing who gets the band name if the members split. Another good prophylatic practice that will continue to be ignored until the first lawsuit, when everyone will freak out.
Posted by Eric at July 11, 2005 02:01 PM | Trademark
Hmm... some of the earliest TM cases (pre-Lanham Act) involved competing newspapers, so there's a long history of that... but there's also a separate line of doctrine for song titles and book titles (see the Outkast / Barbie Girl cases). So is a blog title more like a newspaper title or a book title, or is it a whole new kind of animal?
Posted by: greglas at July 11, 2005 07:14 PM
Good question, Greg. I am more troubled by the TM use angle than the infringement issues. Blogs come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them walk an ambiguous line about commerciality--sure, I run AdSense on my blog (and make a very nominal number of pennies in the process), but my blog isn't a commercial activity the way that trademark law is used to. Trying to stretch TM law to deal with these weak commercial situations creates a recipe for poor jurisprudence. See, e.g., Planned Parenthood, Doughney, OBH, etc. Eric.
Posted by: Eric Goldman at July 11, 2005 09:09 PM