Archive for January, 2011

Which U.S. city has the best trademarks?

Posted by admin on: January 31st, 2011

A lot of cities have many creative brands based in them. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and many others come to mind. But those cities also have a lot of boring brands.

Having just returned from Austin, Texas, where independent businesses thrive and far outnumber chain stores, I now believe that Austin has the most creative trademarks of any city I have visited.

Below are some pictures of great places, signs, and trademarks that I found in and around Austin (click images to enlarge).

What city do you think has the best trademarks? Leave a comment with your vote!



On my way to “Keep Austin Weird”

Posted by admin on: January 27th, 2011

Weather permitted, I’ll be flying out this morning to Austin, Texas to participate in the Cyberspace Institute of the American Bar Association Business Law Section. I’ll be speaking on Friday morning on Trademark Strategies for 2012 – “Is There an App for That?”

My trip to Austin has got me thinking…. “KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD” is one of the coolest slogans around. It is distinctive, creative, and it makes you think. And, I presume, it succinctly sums up a city that has a lot of culture to offer.

As I have written about previously, many cities use slogans to brand and promote themselves. It seems that the KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD slogan has a storied history, and it is owned by a company, not by a public agency or chamber of commerce. See below for some links to stories about the slogan, including a dispute over the trademark.

Here are a few other interesting registered slogans that promote Austin:










More details about the “Keep Austin Weird” trademark:

  • Wikipedia entry
  • a book called “Weird City” by By Joshua Long. From the publisher’s website:
  • “Keep Austin Weird” originated in 2000 as a grassroots expression of place attachment and anti-commercialization. Its popularity has led to its use as a rallying cry for local business, as a rhetorical tool by city governance, and now as the unofficial civic motto for a city experiencing rapid growth and transformation. By using “Keep Austin Weird” as a central focus, Joshua Long explores the links between sense of place, consumption patterns, sustainable development, and urban politics in Austin. Research on this phenomenon considers the strong influence of the “Creative Class” thesis on Smart Growth strategies, gentrification, income inequality, and social polarization made popular by the works of Richard Florida. This study is highly applicable to several emerging “Creative Cities,” but holds special significance for the city considered the greatest creative success story, Austin.
  • Bad Guys Get the Trademark: The folks at Absolutely Austin (a.k.a. Nobonz, Outhouse Design, Udamon, etc.), who make most of the T-shirts, hats, and some of the bumperstickers you see, got the trademark for “Keep Austin Weird” in October 2003. We realize most people don’t care, and for good reasons. We invented the phrase, did the original bumperstickers, and put up this website before they were out of their diapers, so forgive us for being a touch defensive and probably egotistic.
  • The real problem with this turn of events is that it points out the boring irony of the entire “movement” (to use a grandiose term). It was a small attempt to counter Austin’s descent into rampant commercialism and over-development. Absolutely Austin getting the trademark rather than letting this chicken run free is a sad proof that commercialism is winning. Most people probably think of Keep Austin Weird as a marketing slogan rather than our original attempt to highlight those aspects of our town that are really weird. Making money isn’t high on that list.  And they are enforcing the trademark, getting desist orders to folks who were making T-shirts.

Related Post:

Keeping busy in 2011 – recent firm activity roundup

Posted by admin on: January 25th, 2011

I hope your 2011 is off to as busy a start ours! Here is a round up of some recent firm activities:

  • Our iPhone application, Apptorney®, was featured in an article on Top 10 Legal Predictions for 2011! and its discussion of the likely boom in law firm apps
  • My “Top 10 Trademark Trends in 2010” article was featured on JD Supra’s The Legal Year in Review: What Lawyers Are Saying
  • I have been invited to speaking at the SOCIALEX conference in Washington DC, in March. The conference will explore the legal aspects of social media, and my talk will discuss intellectual property issues related to social media use.  For more information visit the conference website.

  • My recent interview with KIVA B&C Talk Radio discussing intellectual property protection and other issues facing start ups is featured here
  • Trademark professionals attending the International Trademark Association’s 2011 annual conference in San Francisco can sign up to attend the “Table Topic” discussion I will be hosting on Trademark Settlement Agreement Tips
  • My recent interview about law firm branding with noted law firm consultant Ed Poll of Law Biz®  has been posted
  • Associate Mark Donahey was recently appointed to the Economic Development Committee of the National Small Business Association
  • I was recently selected to the Board Directors for the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce
  • We were asked by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy to participate in a public roundtable on the USPTO’s request for comments regarding the impact of trademark litigation tactics on small business
  • I have been appointed to the editorial board of the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property 2011 Annual Review of Intellectual Property Law Developments

On top of all that, in the first three weeks of the year, our clients received 10 new trademark registrations!

The Super Bowl® will be played between the Packers and the Steelers one week from Sunday, and it will be watched by hundreds of millions around the world.  I can use the words “Super Bowl” freely because I am not in any way competing with the NFL and the revenue it makes from the game and the Super Bowl® trademark.

But if you are in the apparel or entertainment industry, or you plan to show the football game in some manner that is commercial, be very careful what you call the game and how you advertise it. At one point, the NFL tried to stop businesses from using the “Big Game” in addition the Super Bowl.

Last year’s champs, the New Orleans Saints, have been involved in disputes regarding the phrase “Who Dat?”  The NFL has a history of aggressively enforcing it purported rights against multititude of businesses. For example:

The NFL owns several registered trademarks for SUPER BOWL® as well as registrations for:

Whatever your plans are for the big game in two weeks, if you have any business related to the biggest football game of the year remember that the NFL’s trademark police just might be looking to make an example out of you!

Trademark Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”) held a public meeting via telephone yesterday (Jan. 20, 2011), and I listened in.  Other than the participation of three new members recently appointed and sworn in the committee, there was little news.

Congratulations to the three new members on the appointment!

  • Maury Tepper – Attorney at Tepper & Eyster, PLLC (bio here)
  • Ann Chasser (former Commissions for Trademarks and President of INTA) – University of Cincinnati Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (webpage here, LinkedIn bio here)
  • Deborah Hampton – Limited Brands Inc. Intellectual Property Manager (LinkedIn bio here)

In other news from the conference call, the TTAB hopes to release the updated TTAB Manual of Procedure (TBMP) to the public in March – it is currently been converted from Word to XML and proofed. It was also reported that in FY2011 Q1cases going to a final decision by the TTAB took an average of 172 weeks, which is down from the previous Quarter.

TPAC noted that it was aware of the TESS search system problems this week, and it is monitoring the USPTO’s response to the situation, and also noted that the USPTO request for comments on “Trademark Litigation Tactics” has been extended until February 7, 2011.

The next public TPAC phone conference will be February 3, 2011. The next public TPAC meeting at the USPTO is scheduled for February 11, 2011. For a schedule of future TPAC meetings, see USPTO site here.