We have long discussed the insane evolution of trademark and copyright laws. Now a New York artist Paul Ingrisano, aka “Pi Productions Corp” of New York is claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π.—pi followed by a period—a design. It is the perfect irrational trademark claim for the ultimate irrational number.
I have long been a critic of growing copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). (For a prior column, click here).
Ingrisano notified California-based print-on-demand outlet Zazzle that its clothing items were in violation of trademark laws because the company falsely assumed that the symbol belong to humanity: “It has been brought to our client’s attention that your business, Zazzle Com/AKA Zazzle Inc., has been using the mathematical symbol ‘pi,’ referred to herein as the ‘PI trademark,’ in association with the marketing or sale of your products or of products offered through your services. . . We have evidence of your unlawful products to preserve as evidence. Accordingly, you are hereby directed to CEASE AND DESIST ALL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.”
Amazingly, Zazzle pulled its products involving thousands of different items. The attorney behind the letter Ronald Millet insists that they are within their rights even though none of the designs sold through Zazzle included the exact trademark π.—pi followed by a period. Yet, “Some clearly have a pi sign and look similar enough that folks out there might confuse it with products that my client also sells.”
But Stanford law professor Mark Lemley says Millet is trying to square a circle. A trademark is supposed to be used to brand a company and its products. “If you want to sell T-shirts and on the tag your brand name is the symbol pi, I think that’s a reasonable trademark,” he says. “But if what you want to do is actually prevent people from using the symbol pi on a T-shirt, then I think you’re missing the point of trademark law.”
Millet says that they will decide how to proceed.
The real question is how the American people will proceed in the face of this ridiculous growth of trademark and copyright claims, as discussed in a prior column, click here).
Kudos: Ira Newlander