A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC

Swimming in the Shark Tank: Even Gladiators Need to Clear Trademarks

Swimming with the Shark Tank

If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, one of the more interesting pitches was by Rachel Zietz in 2016, a (then) fifteen-year old lacrosse player and entrepreneur. She said she was tired of the lousy lacrosse equipment she had been buying from the major manufacturers, who, she suspected, didn’t really understand the sport. She would design better equipment herself. Encouraged by her parents and The Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Boca Raton to form a business around something she loved, she started manufacturing and selling lacrosse equipment. She called her business “Gladiator Lacrosse.” She was only thirteen. It was 2013.

None of sharks invested in her company, though they were all impressed and a few were intrigued. They didn’t doubt her business model or her success. Her company already had revenues of $340,000, in just a matter of two years, so she was clearly tapping into something. They just didn’t see how their involvement and money would add anything to her company. Some also doubted that she could stay involved in her company at such a young age, when she would have so many other commitments. She responded that she has a strong brand: GLADIATOR.

Those about to…

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The Color Run v Photographer Part 3—Failing at Risk-Reward Analysis

Part 3 of 3: When Doing Nothing Is the Best Choice

This is the last in a series of posts about how the popular quasi-charitable event organizer, The Color Run, got into such a serious scrape with a freelance photographer because of a too-casual copyright license. As I showed last time, The Color Run was lucky that the photographer hadn’t timely registered the copyrights in the photographs, or else his absurd $100,000 demand wouldn’t have been so absurd.

This post is about The Color Run’s reaction to the said absurd demand. Recall that The Color Run reacted by suing the photographer, Maxwell Jackson, for (1) a declaration that it had a license to use the photographs, and (2) trademark infringement. In my introductory post, I suggested that the claim for declaratory judgment was defensible but the trademark claim was a “dick move.”

I Do Declare!

While seeking a declaration of non-infringement was defensible in the face of a $100,000 demand, it wasn’t necessarily the correct or wisest course of action. The other course of action was to do nothing and see if Jackson really would sue. Sometimes, in law, doing nothing is the best course of action. Yeah, I know, bias for action…

In 1928, the Color Run was a lot less colorful.

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Is Copyright Law Just a Jedi Mind Trick?

You Might Need to Be a Jedi to Separate Form from Function in a 3D Object

How a Small Difference Between British and US Copyright Law Made a Big Difference

There’s been a good deal of buzz on some of geekier websites that I frequent about this decision.*  At first, it was portrayed as a huge loss by a Goliath at the hands of a David over ownership of the intellectual property in the Stormtrooper’s helmets from Star Wars.  Quickly, though, a more accurate narrative emerged.  While it really was a victory for David over Goliath–and the victory really was big for David (you have to admire him for sticking to his guns)–it wasn’t so terrible for Goliath.  Goliath got to keep the copyright on the Stormtrooper Helmet design, but it now has to tolerate the manufacture and sale by our “David” (or anyone else in the UK) of articles based on that design.  (Of course, our “David” can do the job better because he has the actual molds!).

*  The decision was rendered by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which is the highest civil court there.  Before 2009, these judges were known as the “Law Lords,” which…

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