Monday, January 13, 2014

Hedging and bullying in trademark

Chicago State University attempts to intimidate a faculty blog into not identifying itself properly, using trademark law as its bullying tool/justification.  This takes a turn for the silly as the university now objects to a picture of CSU hedges, trimmed in the shape of the letters “CSU,” that replaced the earlier text.  Intriguingly, the use of an image might indeed have some effect on search algorithms, depending on the technology—but it’s completely legitimate nominative fair use in either case.  This nonlawyer’s discussion does not analyze the issues in the way I’d expect a trademark lawyer to do, but the underlying point—there is nothing wrong with the faculty blog, and it’s a misuse of trademark law to object to critical content—is clearly right; the discussion of other CSU institutions makes the related point that those who make overbearing trademark threats sometimes put their overall rights at risk.

HT Zach Schrag.

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