Back to Newsletter
Stop The Press — Trademark Coverage’s Mess
by Jane Shay Wald , Irell & Manella LLP
When Law360 In-Depth invited Jane Shay Wald to write an op-ed on a topic of her choice, the Icon of IP said she would be happy to discuss the problem of
how the mainstream media frequently misunderstands (and misrepresents) trademark issues. As chair of Irell
& Manella's trademark practice group and a practitioner of nearly 40 years, she certainly has seen her share of botched press coverage. From Rolling Stone to The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, the examples are prevalent, she said. Wald even mentioned the time years ago when she applied to register "YOU’RE FIRED" on behalf of a new reality show starring a certain businessman currently running for president. "The press went crazy," she said. In short, it was clear that Wald had a lot to say about precision of language in the mainstream media. Little did we know she would say it in verse...
Trademark coverage by the press We’ve smiled but also cringed Sometimes it’s accurate, I guess But sometimes it’s unhinged
Who doesn’t love a trademark?
The public has a thirst
viz Katy Perry’s left shark The media was first
To speak about the filing (Although it was rejected) Reporters, though, were smiling As if it were protected
A formula we often see When yet a new celebrity
Applies, while claiming typically Intent to use a mark
Attention, though, will spark!
[Celebrity] insert her name
Or his [ someone with major fame] Has “trademarked” [list generic word] And you’ll be sued, haven’t you heard? If you repeat it as a lark
The public’s in the dark!
I filed a mark a decade back “You’re Fired” for a show
That starred a guy who had a knack For drama, as you know
The media reported
The royalties they’d owe If companies resorted To let a worker go
Taylor Swift applied for Registration of
“This Sick Beat,” let’s not ignore
Her albums’ songs of love
“Nice to Meet You, Where You Been” The press picked that one too
Taylor’s marks put wind to sparks Her filing prowess grew
Ms. Swift is not so grandiose (I saw her interview)
Such journalism’s quite verbose
On trademarks, through and through 
Sometimes the media appears to spin the law askew
Discussing trademarks through the years — Not all of it is true
Reporters mix up ITUs Of trademarks for a dose
Of vitamins to help us snooze With major rights in gross
Want some more examples? I think you all have seen Enough such written samples So you know what I mean
The Redskins, the Slants, the examples we’ve seen Of reporters who mix up the ® with the use Some writers are seasoned, but others are green Let’s help them get better with what they produce!
Kris Jenner is a mother In case you hadn’t heard Her trademark is another
Interesting word “Momager” she filed
And the press got riled, excited  “You’ve got to pay, each time you say!” The public was ignited
The Travelers umbrella, enforced against others
Does not mean that children are freed from their mothers’ Reproaches to carry these things to stay dry
Despite what the journalists seem to imply?
Journalists wrote up Yosemite Park
The government might have to “buy back” the mark Some press coverage focused on just registration (It's still a nice venue for summer vacation)
Frank Zappa's heirs
Per the New York Times’ writing Said Dweezle's affairs
That resulted in fighting
Were tied to the ZAPPA name but as reported Described copyright, OK that was distorted. Though the problem in that case arose from a quote No clarification offset the sour note
How can the trademark bar use our slim clout To stop such confusing reports going out?
Say yes to the press Give reporters a shout
To explain (more or less) What a trademark's about
That it isn't a law that takes plain words away
And then punishes speakers who do not obey
If you help these fine writers learn what trademarks are The public will benefit — you’ll be a star!
—By Jane Shay Wald, Irell & Manella LLP
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
 86/526,826 (Killer Queen LLC)
 www.mirror.co.uk April 24, 2015, and others
 78/371,659 (JMBP Inc.)
 86,434,774 and 15 others (Swift, Taylor)
 86/434,931 and 2 others (Swift, Taylor)
1989-terms- article- 1.2096022;
 htt://www.washingtonexaminer.com/redskins-lose-team-trademark-expected-to- appeal/article/2549886 , and others
 86/625,667 (Jenner Communications, Inc.)
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/21/a-private-company- trademarked-the-phrase-yosemite-national-park-should-the-u-s-pay-to-get-it-back/
 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/30/business/media/whats-in-a-name-just-ask-frank-zappas- feuding-heirs.html?_r=0
Jane Shay Wald is a Partner Emeritus of Irell & Manella LLP, and a past President of the Century City Bar Association.
Back to Top
Back to Newsletter