Episode 13: The Dumb Difference Between Copyright and Trademark

I’m in snowy Dayton, Ohio, visiting LexisNexis to work on our TopForm acquisition this week (read: podcasting along unless a miracle happens). Why not cure my Season Affective Disorder by subscribing to the podcast and rating us five stars on iTunes?

1. Business Insider discusses why Dumb Starbucks is probably going to be considered trademark infringement. Spoiler alert: it’s because someone doesn’t understand that Section 107 doesn’t apply to trademarks. Ouch. Here’s Dumb Starbucks’s response to the trademark infringement issue:

By adding the word “dumb,” we are technically “making fun” of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as “fair use.” Fair use is a doctrine that permits use of copyrighted material in a parodical work without permission from the rights holder. It’s the same law that allows Weird Al Yancovik to use the music from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in his parody song “Eat It.”


2. I was torn about whether to include this story but I’m going to include it because reasonable minds can differ. @ouij points us to this ATL story discussing a legal writing professor with a fairly complicated list of local classroom rules students must follow lest they suffer letter grade penalties. While I agree this is harsh, I can imagine the frustration caused by violations of some of these rules. Curious to see if our listeners actually think the prof’s conduct is egregious. I can be swayed. (But I’ve also taught undergrads, so I feel like I have a lot of built-up hostility on the issue of technical violations.)

3. This byline comes courtesy of Kat Chow — forget spring loaded shotguns and get yo’ self a Big Mouth Billy Bass. A fishing supply store in Minnesota recently found its door locks broken and its singing, motion-sensing, mechanical fish knocked onto the ground. The strange part? The store’s cash and valuables were within eyesight.  Authorities believe the burglars were frightened when the fish started singing and fled the scene. Can’t say I blame them. Those things are creepy.

4.  We’ve got a pretty solid collection of bobblehead SCOTUS justices at Fastcase and now so can you! The Green Bag announced it’s going to start hosting lunchtime Twitter quizzes to award these bad boys. If you win one and have the option of picking it up from the O’Melveny & Myers office, I strongly recommend you do it. There’s something seriously amusing about walking into a stuffy D.C. office building, telling the person at the front desk you’re there to see O’Melveny & Myers, and then stopping at the front desk to pick up a toy.

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