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IU professor helps get pesky scrivener’s error removed from Trademark Act

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One pesky scrivener’s error that altered the protection provided by the Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006 has been corrected thanks to the efforts of an Indiana University professor.

Tim Lemper, clinical associate professor of business law in the I.U. Kelley School of Business, wrote two articles about the mistake, advocating that Congress make a correction. These articles not only became the catalyst for the lobbying effort but also provided the new wording that was passed and signed into law on Oct. 5, 2012.

In drafting the 2006 law, Congress intended to provide greater protection for famous trademarks. As part of that law, Congress sought to protect owners of federal trademark registrations from dilution claims based on state law but not federal law.

However because of the drafting error, owners of federal registrations received complete immunity from any type of dilution claim, under state or federal law, even if the registrant was using a mark that diluted the distinctiveness or tarnished the reputation of a famous mark.

Although many others dismissed the error, the I.U. professor believed the errant punctuation could affect commercial use of a famous name. It was clearly a drafting error, Lemper said, and several people in the trademark bar assumed the courts and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board would not apply the law in a way that was obviously a drafting error.

“But,” Lemper stated, “courts and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board apply statutes as they are written, not necessarily as they were intended to be written.”

Here is the actual Section 4 (c)(6):
The ownership by a person of a valid registration…shall be a complete bar to an action against that person, with respect to that mark, that –
(A)(i) is brought by another person under the common law or a statute of State; and
(ii) seeks to prevent dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment; or
(B) asserts any claim of actual or likely damage or harm to the distinctiveness or reputation of a mark….

Here is the Lemper redraft that was adopted by Congress:
The ownership by a person of a valid registration…shall be a complete bar to an action against that person, with respect to that mark, that –
(A) is brought by another person under the common law or a statute of a State; and
(B)(i) seeks to prevent dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment; or
(ii) asserts any claim of actual or likely damage or harm to the distinctiveness or reputation of a mark….

 

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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