Jan.-Feb. 2012 Quick Links, Part 2 (Trademarks, Patents, Trade Secrets, Innovation Edition)

By Eric Goldman


* Naked Cowboy v. CBS, 2012 WL 592539 (S.D.N.Y. Feb 23, 2012). The court rejects the trademark claim for CBS buying “Naked Cowboy” keyword advertising to promote the YouTube video for lack of use in commerce, citing Merck v. Mediaplan, which I thought was dead after Rescuecom. CBS’s reference to “Naked Cowboy” in its YouTube video title was a non-trademark use. Rebecca’s coverage.

* Lovely Skin, Inc. v. Ishtar Skin Care Products, LLC, 2012 WL 379930 (D. Neb. Feb. 6, 2012). Lovely Skin sued Livelyskin for trademark infringement. Livelyskin claimed unclean hands because Lovely Skin bought Livelyskin as keyword ad triggers. The court refuses summary judgment and holds the issue over for trial.

* Neeley v. NameMedia, Inc., 2012 WL 470155 (8th Cir. February 15, 2012). Affirming dismissal of this odd case.

* Paul Keating rips a UDRP ruling over hardwareresources.org.

* Louis Vuitton sent an ill-advised and condescending cease & desist letter to University of Pennsylvania’s IP students for using a parody LVMH logo to promote their fashion law conference. UPenn told LVMH to pound sand. Law.com coverage. Jonathan Pink’s analysis (with a funny Star Wars reference).

* TechCrunch: New Trademarkia Feature Exposes Biggest Trademark Bullies; Apple, Zynga Among Top Five

* Trademark Reporter published my remarks about trademark law’s past/future. Prior blog post.


* Who’s most excited about Facebook’s IPO? Patent lawyers!

* Is Microsoft laying down its patent weapons?

* We’ve just hired a new patent professor at SCU, Brian Love. In an op-ed, he explains why university patent portfolios are a bad deal for everyone–including the university!

Trade Secrets

* Aqua Connect, Inc. v. Code Rebel LLC, No. 2:11-cv-05764-RSWL-MAN (C.D. Cal. Feb. 15, 2012). User downloaded trial software and agreed to a EULA restricting reverse engineering. The user reversed engineered anyway. The court dismissed the trade secret misappropriation claim, but the breach of contract claim remains.

* SocialApps, LLC v. Zynga, Inc., 2012 WL 381216 (N.D. Cal. February 6, 2012). Lawsuit that Zynga ripped off app developer mostly survives a motion to dismiss.

* All Things D: Raj Abhyanker (of Trademarkia infamy) dropped his idea theft suit against Nextdoor.

* Salon: The Internet makes magic disappear.


* My colleague Kyle Graham has posted a really interesting article on how tort law responds to technological innovations: “Of Frightened Horses and Autonomous Vehicles: Tort Law and its Assimilation of Innovations

* NYT: Apple’s success has translated into manufacturing jobs overseas. As Steve Jobs answered to Pres. Obama when asked about getting those jobs into the US, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” Instead, as we transition to a knowledge economy, the US has to develop a skilled labor force that can add enough value to justify the high cost-of-living here.

* William M. Fischer, The Utah Bioprospecting Act of 2010: (Unintentional) State-Level Implementation of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law, Winter 2012. Prior blog post.

* NYT: Bell Labs as an exemplar of the value of “slow” development cycles. Some of its strengths: face-to-face interactions of cross-disciplinary teams of experts, a building designed to get people to encounter each other, an emphasis on applied research, physical proximity of researchers to the manufacturing facilities to facilitate two-way learning, and sufficiently long innovation timelines.

* WSJ: Target is trying to fight showrooming by having manufacturers create Target-specific brands, a technique that has worked to curb price comparisons in some categories, like mattresses and tires. Will Target’s move lead to product proliferation? Or will some entrepreneur simply help link the retailer-specific items so that they can be easily price-compared? FWIW, I rarely worry about price comparison at Trader Joe’s, even with respect to private-labeled goods, because they have repeatedly proven to me that they give me good value. If Target isn’t working to ensure good value for consumers from product differentiation, I don’t see how their move will help.