I was just reading another thread about copyright violations, and it brought this very true story to mind. Would love to know your thoughts.
There is a company out there (who shall remain completely nameless lest I get sued for libel or slander or something ridiculous) whose name is something pretty common like "Luxury Homes". They've gone ahead and gotten a trademark for the name. This is where the fun starts.
As the economy took a downturn, they figured out they'd better develop a new revenue stream and fast. So they started suing ANYONE and EVERYONE who uses the phrase "Luxury Homes" on their website, in their advertising, etc. if they use initial caps or all upper-case letters. It's semi-okay if you use all lower case.
They've filed 30 some odd lawsuits last time I checked against people who did nothing more than pop up an ad that said "Luxury Homes For Sale". Most people people are settling in the $25,000 to $50,000 with them right off the bat, because the cost of defending that type of lawsuit could be much, much higher. Some people just took down their websites altogether and shut their doors.
I really do think our Trademark and Patent office has gone nutsy. Next thing you know, I'm going to have to get Paris Hilton's permission before I can act stone dumb!
Sure - the trademark and patent laws are getting out of hand, and you do find plenty of ridiculous situations like that one. I remember McDonalds trying to sue any restaurant using the prefix 'Mc.' in their name. I lived in Scotland at the time and, as you can imagine, everybody was a little bemused by the whole affair.
Copyright law just about works, but there are some grey areas that the lawyers exploit mercilessly.
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