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    I think you misspelled "MEAWGHTH" | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 5 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re:Of Course He Knew What He Was Doing
    by jberryhill on Wednesday January 21 2004, @08:50AM (#12885)
    User #3013 Info

    No. There is no unqualified right to use a term as a trademark or trade name for the simple fact that it is your name. If your name is DuPont, you may certainly start a chemical company, but you cannot call it "DuPont". This is a very basic and well-established principle of trademark law. Recent legal decisions relating to domain names would include Ford Motor Company v. Ford Financial Solutions, in which an accountant named "Ford" was not permitted to use the term "fordfinancial" in a domain name, because Ford Motor Company had prior rights in the term "Ford" for those types of services. You might also consider reading the label of a bottle of Bully Hill wine, and researching the history of those odd labels. Bully Hill is run by the grandson of the founder of the Taylor wine company in New York. Unfortunately for him, his family had already sold the rights to the name Taylor for wine prior to the establishment of his own business. He has been in and out of court for years with his various, and sometimes amusing, attempts to evade successive injunctions to keep him from using the name "Taylor" on his wines. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Ford are most certainly not permitted to use their personal legal names as trademarks in their respective businesses, and they join a long list of people, including a number of members of the Gallo family, who have found out the exact same thing.

    The UDRP is not the last word on trademark law, and the UDRP is only directed to a narrow class of cases. Some panelists cannot seem to restrain themselves, and have gone beyond the UDRP's criteria to find against, for example, a man named Peter Frampton, because he appeared to be trading on confusion between his name and that of a musician in the manner he was using peterframpton.com. In other cases, where people have been using their personal names for unrelated purposes, such as Mr. A. R. Mani, who was making personal use of armani.com, panelists have been more inclined to confine their decisions within the limits of the policy.

    I have no idea why you make a distinction between someone who changes their name or someone who is born with a name. If you change your name to Xerox, it is just as legally your personal name as if you were born with it.

    The reason why Mike Rowe cannot start a software business named MikeRowesoft is because it is indistinguishable in sound from Microsoft, and is being used for commercial purposes for goods and services which overlap with those of Microsoft. In trademark terms, the outcome is an absolute no-brainer in favor of Microsoft.

    In answer to your question "Don't legal personal names trump trademarks?" is a simple and well-established "Not if those legal personal names are being used as trademarks." If you want, you can certainly name your child "Coca-Cola", and I'm sure there is probably someone out there who has done that. That person has every right to identify him or herself as Coca-Cola. However, that person has no right at all to go into the soft drink business using that name.

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