Category — Cease & Desist
Wolfman Productions was using Rockstar's GTA San Andreas logos/trademarks on its webpage promoting Jack Thompson's college detate tour. Jack Thompson is on the record for saying he is out to destroy Rockstar. Rockstar's parent, Take Two, sent a cease-and desist order to Wolfman Productions. Wolfman complied. As of this posting Master Chief, Laura Croft, Doom and Postal images/trademarks/depictions are still on that page.
The ESRB is apparently demanding that Kotaku remove a post on their website describing and depicting a T-Shirt that parodies the ESRB logo (see the offending logo on the t-shirt depicted to the left). Despite being notified by Kotaku that the post is editorial content and not an advertisement for the sale of a T-shirt, the ESRB continues to demand the removal of the post. The ESRB demand letter states, in part:
We believe that this t-shirt ad will result in consumer confusion, and a substantial likelihood that the ESRB certification marks will face tarnishment and dilution.
Dale’s Comment: I personally don’t get the parody joke. Unfortunately the current state of trademark law is such that the trademark owner must fiercely protect its mark or face loosing it. This is an area of IP law that I believe is ripe for reform. The recent spat of “pod” related lawsuits brought by Apple against any company or service including ‘pod’ in their corporate, product or service name is another example of this silliness. Chris Bennet at the law firm of Davis & Company wrote this interesting blog entry on the topic. While the ESRB may have a case against the t-shirt manufacturer (and even that, I believe, is a tenuous case), they would have a much tougher time in any legal action brought against Kotaku based on this editorial post because Kotaku is not using the parodied logo in commerce. It merely comments on the existence of the shirt in a blog post. Trademark law is designed to keep others from using the trademark holder’s marks in commerce – not to keep editorialists from commenting on the existence of items that possibly infringe another’s trademarks.
[Update:] TheBBPS, a one man blog, apparently also received a cease and desist order from the ESRB for a similar blog post and took down the post. Destructoid, still another gaming blog, has seemingly decided to keep its post on the t-shirt up despite also receiving an ESRB cease and desist letter.
The new Mortal Kombat Armageddon game has a built-in character editor. Gamers can mix and match clothing, body types, hairstyles and facial characteristics to create original characters to be played/fought in the game. The enterprising e-zeen Gaming Target posted this story providing character editor formulas for gamers to use to create famous, and infamous, characters including a formula for creating anti-game-violence crusader Jack Thompson.
Jack Thompson, apparently not quite understanding the character editor distinction, sent off a cease and desist letter to Midway, the game’s publisher, with the following contained therein:
“It has today come to my attention that the newly recently Mortal Kombat: Armageddon contains an unauthorized commercial exploitation of my name, photograph, image, and likeness within the game.”
“You are commanded to cease and desist immediately from the distribution of this game because of this unauthorized, illegal content…”
“It would appear that your company has done this at least in part because I sued you all in the Paducah school massacre case and further because I appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 when your company came out with your profane, violent, and idiotic Blitz: The League.”
To be clear, there is no crusading Florida lawyer character that is shipped with the game. On the presumption that Jack Thompson is aware of the Marvel v. NCSoft decision (see linked posts below) which is on point, this demand will likely just fade away once Mr. Thompson realizes what has happened here. The mere inclusion of a character editor does not, in itself, infringe anyone’s IP or personality rights any more than the manufacture and sale of Etch-a-Sketches does.
Disgruntled U.K. PSP retailer ElectricBirdLand responds to Sony Cease and Desist order instructing retailers to stop selling imported PSPs on the grounds that this infringes trademarks while Sony works to secure the rights to the PSP trademark in the U.K.
- Sony Wins U.K. Lik-Sang Grey Market Case – Lik-Sang Shuts Down (Oct 20-24, 2006)
- Sony Sues Online Retailer for PSP Sale (August 8, 2005)
- Sony Wins Another PSP Import Case Against Nuplayer (July 20, 2005)
- Sony Wins Injunction Against PSP Importer ElectricBirdLand (June 27, 2005)
- Sony and UK Retailer in Dispute over PSP Trademark Issues (June 3, 2005)
Xfire countersues Yahoo! claiming unfair business practices. Xfire alleges unfair business practices, complains that Yahoo! did not provide them with a cease and desist letter before suing, claims it made good faith attempts to address Yahoo!’s concerns and offered to disclose its software code to Yahoo! or to mediate the dispute with a neutral third party.
- Yahoo!, Xfire Settle Lawsuit (February 9, 2006)
- Xfire, Yahoo! Near Terms of Patent Dispute Settlement (November 23, 2005)
- Xfire Countersues Yahoo! (March 11, 2005)
- Yahoo! Sues Xfire for Patent Infringement (February 4, 2005)