Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Google's Attempt to Register "Glass" As a Trademark Stalls

"Google Glass" is already registered as a trademark, but now, Google is having difficulty getting a registration for its "Glass" mark:

Recently, the USPTO rejected the registration citing applications filed prior to Google's application, likelihood of confusion and the mark is descriptive.  In response, Google's attorneys provided almost 2,000 pages of news articles about Google Glass in an attempt to show that there can be no confusion because of all the press.  The argument goes that since Glass has gotten so much press, consumers are not likely to confuse that mark with anything else.  The attorneys, of course, also argue that the term is not descriptive.  

Everything I've ever read (and it has not been 2,000 pages of articles) has used the term "Google Glass," not just "Glass" alone.  Not sure Google can overcome this rejection, but maybe "might makes right" on this one? Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More for the Don't Trust Yelp File

Yelp seemingly provides never-ending fodder for this blog.  As you may recall, when we last left our erstwhile thug (i.e. Yelp), Yelp was suing a law firm for "working" the system by getting associates and employees to post favorable reviews.  Of course, Yelp did not take kindly to being sued and began running competitor's ads on the firm's Yelp page, as well as filtering the reviews to make the less favorable ones more prominent.  This is a common tactic employed by Yelp when a merchant has the audacity to refuse to pay Yelp's advertising fees. 

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article provided a real-life example of Yelp's "mafia-like" tactics.  Apparently, Rick Fonger decided to open a jewelry store after a career in journalism.  To help advertise, Mr. Fonger paid Yelp $ 300 a month.  He got some results, but thought that he could spend his advertising dollars differently to get better results (or, more advertising bang for the buck).  So, he did what any small business owner would do, he canceled his Yelp ad in order to apply his limited advertising budget towards something more fruitful.  The next day, a Yelp representative called Mr. Fonger to inform him that competitor's ads were showing up on his Yelp page and explained that she could make them go away for $ 75 a month.  I agree with the LA Times article that this sounds like extortion.

David Lazarus of the LA Times was not done with Yelp.  He followed up the aforementioned article with another one describing Yelp's extortionist ways.  In that article, Mr. Lazarus describes how Yelp uses bad reviews to strong-arm small businesses to purchase their services.  Indeed, if the small business refuses to "play ball," it is likely that they will find bad reviews featured more prominently. Yelp also demands payment to remove bad reviews and is not very helpful in addressing false claims made by reviewers.  Even more troublesome is the fact that several of the small business owners who spoke to the reporter were afraid to give their names for fear of retaliation by Yelp.  Indeed, one real estate appraiser noted that after he stopped paying Yelp, Yelp apparently reordered the reviews to feature the negative ones more prominently.

Notably, after my last blog post about Yelp, I received several phone messages from someone from Yelp.  Undoubtedly, that person wanted to sell me ad space or have me pay to remove ads of "competitors." 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Onions, Now Whiskey

Well, Georgia has their trademarked Vidalia Onion.  Now, Tennessee is in a battle over whiskey.  Specifically, Tennessee whiskey.  Apparently, the Tennessee Legislature passed a law that "Tennessee Whiskey" is that which is made virtually the same way as Jack Daniel's.  Needless to say, JD's closest in state competitor, Dickel, was not amused.  Apparently, JD's has several distinct advantages in making their hooch the way its been doing it since the 1870's.  First, JD's is a huge enterprise.  Second, they also make their own very expensive barrels mandated by the law.

Jack Daniel's frames the law as necessary to insure that Tennessee's "signature" whiskey is not undermined by competitors.  Apparently, JD's is trying to make it harder for its behemoth competitor, Johnnie Walker from entering the Tennessee whiskey fray.  It will be interesting to see if David can slay Goliath in this battle.