UnIntellectual Property (UnIP): Trademark for Apparel

Yahoo News reported that reality TV star Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino lost a trademark infringement lawsuit against Abercombie & Fitch.  The Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida held that Sorrentino had yet to establish common law trademark rights at the time Abercrombie started selling its “The Fitchuation” t-shirt in February 2010.

This ruling appears sound, and it reiterates the fact that timing for trademark rights, common law or otherwise, is critically important.  One must make a trademark use and establish prior trademark rights in order to state a claim for trademark infringement.  This case also could have easily implicated issues related to fair use (parody), non-trademark use (mere ornamentation), or other issues.

I will admit I watched the Jersey Shore, was in attendance at an MSU football game when “The Situation” attended, and could not help but read this article and report it on my blog.  Trademarks and reality TV stars are nothing new, but their paths seems to be crossing more than ever.  I am too happy to report about them here when I am not representing them in my practice.



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