Friday, April 08, 2016

Further results from my FOIA case against ICE

With the assistance of Georgetown's Institute for Public Representation, I sued ICE to get it to answer some questions about why its representative claimed that "X sucks" merchandise would infringe X's trademark rights, at least where X is a sports team.  ICE has made three productions so far, and it's basically a lot of blurry pictures and heavily redacted guides produced by sports teams/apparel companies.  Assuming that the sample I have is at all representative, it seems to me that ICE does seize a lot of plain counterfeits, but it can also seize more questionably.  Is this design on a shirt likely to cause confusion about source?

Blunt Blowin' Bull with bloodshot eyes and marijuana
Certainly, many of the photos showed counterfeits, including counterfeit tags claiming to be genuine NFL etc. merchandise.  With the caveat that the organization of the production makes start/endpoints for different seizures difficult to determine, there was one seizure centering on Seattle Seahawks merchandise that didn't follow this pattern.  There didn't seem to be counterfeit tags--ICE didn't produce photos of tags for this seizure, and their practice is apparently to photograph tags when they might be counterfeits.  Some of this merchandise bore Seahawks logos alone; others involved Seahawks-related images, or a logo plus other positive/fannish commentary.  Many of those shirt didn't look particularly official to me; they might make good examples for discussion of trademark as a pure merchandising right, which ICE is helping to protect.

Seahawks with list

Match-up with both teams' logos

Go Hawks Re-Pete

I have no idea what's going on here; suggestions very welcome

Why not us?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Based on a quick Google Images search, it looks like there's a whole genre of sexy-Marilyn-Monroe-wearing-your-team's-jersey (or whatever... in the b/w image you got, she's also wearing 49ers underpants).