Trademarks are magic

Note: This is the fourth of five blog posts devoted to Week 4/Module 4 of my business law course (Tiger King edition). Credit for the title of this particular blog post goes to the excellent Ed Timberlake (@TimberlakeLaw), a trademark and copyright lawyer who I follow on Twitter.

As I have explained in my last few posts, week 4 of my Tiger Law course is devoted to intellectual property rights, or what I prefer to call “the law of ideas.” Thus far, I have explained why this area of law should be included in any business law survey course, and we introduced the law of copyrights. The remainder of my week 4 IP module is devoted to trademark law. In summary, I decided to emphasize trademarks and copyrights for two reasons. One is that many marketing majors are enrolled in my course; the other reason has to do with Tiger King. It turns out that the legal battles between the two central characters in Tiger King–Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic–involve a copyrighted photo and a trademarked logo.

To make my trademark coverage more manageable, I broke my trademark section into three separate parts. The first part contains an infographic explaining how the trademark registration process works as well as a series of how-to videos by the excellent and entertaining Aiden Durham explaining various aspects of trademark law, including the difference between a trademark and a service mark and whether LeBron James can register the phrase “Taco Tuesday.”

The second part of the trademark section is devoted to USPTO v., a pending case that was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last month. This case itself is not that important in the grand scheme of things, but I added this section in order to give my students a small sample of how the U.S. legal system really works. I also wanted to teach my students a larger lesson. Most law courses focus on cases that are already decided. But a live dispute shows us that the law is often contested and that it’s not always easy to predict the outcome of a live case.

The last part of my trademark section includes legal artifacts that are specific to the Tiger King docuseries, including the original trademark registration of the “Big Cat Rescue” logo as well as a new trademark application for a Joe Exotic Halloween costume set (pictured below). Since Module 5 of my course is devoted to criminal and civil cases, I will wait until week 5 to discuss the details of the Tiger King case between Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic. But before I move into week 5, there is one more aspect of intellectual property law that I wish to discuss before I conclude this series of blog posts: the fair use doctrine.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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