21 February 2008

Law School Barbie

I think Mattel should seriously consider marketing a "Law School Barbie," as Mattel's products seem to make up a third or so of the Ninth Circuit's trademark-with-copyright-claim docket. Barbie herself can't do all that much worse than Mattel has in front of the Ninth Circuit,1 although this time around there will at least be another chance in the trial court.

The most-recent example is Jada Toys, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc., No. 05–55627 (9th Cir. 21 Feb 2008) (PDF). The court describes the core of the dispute this way:

Jada filed an action against Mattel, asserting claims for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. Jadas allegations, however, were not related to its HOT RIGZ mark; rather, Jada claimed that Mattels advertising and sale of its OLD SCHOOL and NEW SCHOOL lines infringed on Jadas use of its registered trademark OLD SKOOL. Mattel asserted various affirmative defenses and counterclaims. Among the counterclaims were allegations that Jadas HOT RIGZ mark infringed on Mattels HOT WHEELS mark. Mattel also counterclaimed for copyright infringement and dilution.

Id., slip op. at 1568 (footnote omitted). The court then takes another eleven pages to explain why granting summary judgement in Jada's favor on both its own claims and on Mattel's counterclaims was improper, primarily because there remained material issues of fact (and the judge misconstrued the standard on Jada's own claims). Ultimately, the trial court's error was in noting the facial dissimilarity of the marks in question and treating that dissimilarity as virtually dispositive.

Turning from toys to where they get advertised — television: Will the Library of Congress's Performing Arts Encyclopedia be affected by the prospects of US television networks realizing that no, the year doesn't begin in September, as they (potentially) transition to a 52-week TV schedule? Probably... but perhaps not as we might anticipate.

I share your suffering -- Non Sequitur, 21 Feb 08

Finally, without much further comment (except the sound of my teeth gnashing at the pathetic library catalog software in both the University of Illinois system and the regional public libraries), there's a burgeoning move toward open source for library systems. It can't come too soon... or be worse than either of the virtually undocumented systems I have to struggle with.

  1. I actually observed the oral argument in one of the Mattel cases — the notorious Walking Mountain — while waiting to be called to argue in Ellison. Although one could not help being impressed by the vigor with which Mattel's counsel pressed its position, being impressed by the argument itself was another story entirely, as was reflected in the opinion.