Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another IPod problem

From ipodmyphoto to ipodmybaby (both of which have been changed to redirect from an "ipod"-containing domain name to one using "ipop," but still offering the same iPod-based goods) and everywhere in between, the success of the iPod has generated great examples for IP professors. iPodmybaby, for instance, raises the fascinating question: assuming that the iPod's design is functional, can another party copy its image in a clearly nonfunctional manner? The black-letter law that functional trade dress is unprotectible may not apply when the trade dress is used on a nonfunctional product (compare the rule allowing a plumeria scent to be registered for thread when it could not be registered for perfume).

But today's issue is somewhat less unusual: if the University of Wisconsin starts an ad for the school with the image of an iPod and heavily features the iPod throughout the commercial (playing a techno version of "On, Wisconsin," which incidentally was written for Minnesota), does Apple have a valid trademark claim? See the ad here.

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