A Moron In A Hurry

September 22, 2006

Is Pod a Generic Term?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nick @ 6:43 pm

Those crazy Apple people are at it again, this time sending a cease and desist letter to the Podcast Ready people over their use of the word “pod.”  It seems pretty clear that a “podcast” is a generic term for downloadable radio-style segments, despite the fact that the term is derived from iPod’s name.  In fact, nothing about the word “pod” really seems all that distinctive, but rather it’s the use of the “i” ( as in iMac, iBook, iTunes, iSight, etic.) that makes Apple’s mark strong.  But no, Apple’s lawyers are fretting about other people using the word “pod” in their names and on their products to the point where they are essentially claiming that using the word “podcast” infringes Apple’s trademark rights to the iPod.  Pox on Apple.  If they keep this up someone will fire up an iWasBulliedByApple website (or at least until Apple sends them a letter).

September 14, 2006

NY to Outlaw Lawyer Blogs

Filed under: Uncategorized — nick @ 7:33 pm

Looks like NY is in the process of changing its ethics laws so that a blog would be considered advertising, which is strictly regulated by the state.  Under the changes, any communication made by a lawyer about a lawyer would be considered an advertisement.  While its understandable to view a blog as an advertisement, one question is whether there is a real problem this law is trying to solve.  How many blawgs might confuse or misleas consumers versus how much would we be hurt if the costs of writing to a blawg becomes to high?  It recalls a NYT article about lawyers’ disproportionate share of the blogosphere.

September 6, 2006

Court to Seize OJ’s Ego

Filed under: right of publicity — nick @ 1:14 am

Courts are increasingly inclined to protect the money-making personas of celebrities under the principle of publicity rights.  Based on state law, whether through statute or common law (California has both), the right of publicity is a property right rather than one arising under tort law that prevents others from commercially capitalizing on another’s fame in ways that are unfair.  It is similar in many ways to trademark, as in both are concerned with preventing public confusion and in making fame profitable. 
Now there’s news that Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, is asking the Los Angeles County Superior Court to grant him control of OJ Simpson’s publicity rights because OJ has failed to pay up on Goldman’s 1997 wrongful death suit:

Simpson has avoided paying the civil judgment because his National Football League pension and his Florida home cannot legally be seized. However, Goldman’s petition contends Simpson has continued to earn money through appearances and autograph signings.

Goldman said he wants to take from Simpson “what we perceive is probably the most important thing to him, and that’s his ego, and that’s the opportunity to use his name and likeness to earn money.”

Celebrities have enforced their right of publicity against others seeking to capitalize on their fame (recently, see Tony Twist and MLB), but this may well be the first time a court has been asked to seize someone’s persona to settle an outstanding judgment.  Though this is a “property” right, it is not property like a yacht or a house, a distinction that often gets conflated in many discussions over similar forms of intellectual property.  It is also a privacy right as well and one required to maintain personal integrity.  Or maybe this development is just desserts for those in our celebrity obsessed culture who have sought to commodify their fame.  It will be interesting to see how far this case goes.

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