Coming Soon To Stores . . . Palin™: Palin Trademarks Herself

Sarah Palin has made a name for herself as a reality television star and grizzley Mom. Now she is trademarking that name as is her daughter Bristol Palin.

Bristol Palin has a one-line resume consisting of coming in second in Dancing with the Stars. However, if you want to use that name, you will have to check with her lawyers.

It gets even dicier when you start to publish how The Palins Went to the Super Bowl. In advertising you cannot use the term Super Bowl now that the NFL has claimed it as a trademark. You must say “The Alaskan Woman With The Reality Show To Go To Big Football Game.” “Cheeseheads” and “Steelers towels” have also been trademarked, according to this report The NFL even tried to trademark the phrase “The Big Game” to snare people who try to make any reference to the championship game. The Saints have trademarked “Who Dat?”

Businesses have used trademark laws to slam competitors. North Face sued over the parody company, South Butt. We have seen Apple sue over the mere use of an Apple symbol.

I have repeatedly objected to our run-away trademark and copyright laws. Congress is complicit in this ridiculous trend of people and companies claiming the most basic words and symbols as their propriety interests. The result is stifling of public disclosure and creativity. Simply saying that this does not restrict everyday conversations is not enough –as shown by the litigation over Susan G. Komen For the Cure. It restricts a wide array of speech in the marketplace. However, Congress has done nothing to stop this abuse. It is ridiculous to allow terms like Super Bowl to be claimed as private property but U.S. laws are allowing the privatization of general terminology and a host of lawyers are threatening people over the use of the terms in commerce.

The true absurdity of our current laws is shown by the abusive litigation of Susan G. Komen For the Cure — an organization fighting breast cancer. Komen has sued public interest groups who dare to advertise that they are seeking money or support “for the cure,” ranging from “Bark for the Cure” to “Kayaks for the Cure.” While claiming to want to fight breast cancer in endless ads played on the radio and television, the organization is crushing smaller groups trying to raise money for a cure to breast cancer. The organization has reportedly spent over $1 million that could have gone to breast cancer research to sue other public interest organizations. It is a disgraceful “scorched earth” campaign by a group that has become a fundraising machine.

Actually when will someone in Congress step forward to stop this madness?

Jonathan Turley

Source on Palin story: ABC

48 thoughts on “Coming Soon To Stores . . . Palin™: Palin Trademarks Herself”

  1. You really haven’t experienced copyright lunacy until you’ve spent some time around physicians, who take Olympian pride in naming bodily functions, anatomical parts & pathologies after themselves. From Einthovan’s Triangle to Schmorl’s Nodes, from Colles Fracture to Babinski’s Sign, some of these wackos are off the chart sensitive. And when they die, their heirs take even greater umbrage at the slightest sense of infringement.

    Good ol’ Henry Heimlick went into semi-permanent vapor-lock when his choking maneuver was downgraded to “marginal” and changed to abdominal thrust.”

    And I won’t bore you further by slamming the lab coat lunatic who had the gold-plated, unmitigated gall to name the internal female breast supports after himself. (Cooper’s Ligaments)

    Just my little corner of the Twilight Zone.

  2. pete,
    That is hilarious!
    I am not sure I feel any sympathy for someone who is trying to make a buck off of her crazy Mom and her own mistakes.

  3. I believe Bristol is twenty. So many memories in so little time. Imagine having Caribou Barbie for your mother. One must have sympathy for for Bristol.

  4. Elaine M.

    If they both make it to the White House, the Lincoln Bedroom may be in play again.

    I’ve been trying to recall the term given Bill and Hillary because of their seeming willingness to use things like the L B to raise money. It was something that made them sound really sleazy. Ms. Malkin used Arkansas White Trash, but that wasn’t the term I’m trying to remember. Help?

    Anyway, a 304 page book!!! Any idea how long that took to write? And a memoir – how old is Bristol by now?

  5. Elaine,
    I wonder who Ghost-wrote Bristol’s memoirs? Besides, how old is she, 18 or 19? How many memories can she have at that age?

  6. Should I take out a patent and trademark for the totality of existence?

    If I were able to do that, i would next put my patent and trademark forever after in the public domain.

    Why is not privatization of the commons a minimum of a thousand lifetime sentence felony?

    Is the governmentization of the commons any lesser an offense?

  7. Put aside your spare change now, folks, so you can buy yourself a copy of Bristol Palin’s “memoir” this summer!

    Maybe we can come up with a good title for the “as-yet-untitled” book???


    Bristol Palin Memoir Set To Hit Shelves This Summer


    Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will soon be able to add “author” to her resume with the release of an as-yet-untitled memoir set to hit bookshelves this summer.

    As noted by Political Wire, an Amazon listing for an “Untitled Bristol Palin Memoir” — in hardcover no less — has been created, announcing that the 304-page book will be available for a little over $17.

  8. Ugh, sorry about the double-post above. I gotta stop trying to use my BlackBerry to type replies.

    For the record, the incomplete sentence in the first post (I had reconsidered stating it in a public post and deleted it before making what I thought was my only post, but might as well say now that it’s out anyway) was a recommendation for Professor Turley to seek advice from his colleagues when wandering into more specific fields of law. Intellectual property is usually fair when considered in context, but unintuitive, and from the outside can seem as ridiculous as the rules of, say, medical malpractice liability can look to those who don’t know the law at all. (I notice at least two posts following referring to patents and/or copyright, which are separate fields from trademark. Trademark is much easier to get than either but also has much weaker terms of enforcement.)

  9. Is she doing this to try to squelch criticism down the road using trademark law? Or is she mad about unauthorized merchandise? Anyone have a sense of her motivation for this?

    I definitely agree with the need for IP law reform.

  10. Woosty,
    I guess great minds have similar amusements. I don’t know how to do emoticons, so imagine a smiley face.

  11. I assume that Tina Fey would be the appropriate one to trademark the phrase I can see Russia…, because it was her, not Ms. Palin who said it.

  12. Mike I loved ‘The Riches’….I was so surprised when it was cancelled for ‘lack of viewership’ which I just find ridiculously hard to believe. I’d love to see one of the cable channels pick it up and continue the storyline….and save us from the drecht that is considered worthy…

  13. I once knew a cannibal that was all eaten up over something very similar…Make no bones about it….

  14. Woosty,
    I love Eddie Izzard. He is the most refreshing and intelligent comedian around today. He skewers so much in this clip. By the way he is also a great actor. Check out the cancelled TV series “The Riches,” which was incredible, but too insightful to remain on the air.

  15. From the Harvard Cyber law site – A magazine was using a trademark name for readers to vote on a 900 number that charged money and the magazine received a portion of that money which they gave to charity.

    [Some courts have recognized a somewhat different, but closely-related, fair-use defense, called nominative use. Nominative use occurs when use of a term is necessary for purposes of identifying another producer’s product, not the user’s own product. For example, in a recent case, the newspaper USA Today ran a telephone poll, asking its readers to vote for their favorite member of the music group New Kids on the Block. The New Kids on the Block sued USA Today for trademark infringement. The court held that the use of the trademark “New Kids on the Block” was a privileged nominative use because: (1) the group was not readily identifiable without using the mark; (2) USA Today used only so much of the mark as reasonably necessary to identify it; and (3) there was no suggestion of endorsement or sponsorship by the group. The basic idea is that use of a trademark is sometimes necessary to identify and talk about another party’s products and services. When the above conditions are met, such a use will be privileged. New Kids on the Block v. News America Publishing, Inc., 971 F.2d 302 (9th Cir. 1992).

    Finally, certain parodies of trademarks may be permissible if they are not too directly tied to commercial use. The basic idea here is that artistic and editorial parodies of trademarks serve a valuable critical function, and that this critical function is entitled to some degree of First Amendment protection. The courts have adopted different ways of incorporating such First Amendment interests into the analysis. For example, some courts have applied the general “likelihood of confusion” analysis, using the First Amendment as a factor in the analysis. Other courts have expressly balanced First Amendment considerations against the degree of likely confusion. Still other courts have held that the First Amendment effectively trumps trademark law, under certain circumstances. In general, however, the courts appear to be more sympathetic to the extent that parodies are less commercial, and less sympathetic to the extent that parodies involve commercial use of the mark.]

    It sounds as though if you don’t try to make money, like using Sarah Palin TM in a political ad asking for contributions you might be OK?

    This might cut down on political ads that ask for money, at least. And almost anything about Sarah Palin is ripe for parody. And the patent office has returned the application for more information at this point. Maybe they will hold off till 2013?

    Of course, if she gets the trademark, any group using her name for fund raising, as in eniobob’s post, will have to give her a slice of the action.

  16. JT is right to put this nonsense out there. The patent and copyright rules and regulations are strangling both free speech and free commerce in this country. They are of course supported by those who prattle about the alleged benefits of a “free market,” but show the lie in that by their support of such restraints of trade and speech.

    The most frightening aspect of this is the attempts to patent things such as DNA and natural chemicals. Perhaps they will find a way to patent water, let’s say?

Comments are closed.