Patterico's Pontifications


Sporting Wear Giant Battles Real Estate Conglomerate Over Trademark

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:14 pm

[guest post by JVW]

National Review Online reports on an interesting dust-up in patent and trademark law:

Forty-eight hours after asking the U.S. trademark Office to reject a Black Lives Matter trademark application, German sporting apparel giant Adidas is backing down.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the company was concerned the trademark dispute would be misinterpreted as Adidas standing against the movement’s cause. “Adidas will withdraw its opposition to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s trademark application as soon as possible,” a company statement read.

At issue is the yellow three-stripe logo design Black Lives Matter filed a trademark application for in 2020. In Adidas’s view, that logo has a clear resemblance to the company’s classic three stripes.

Adidas had orignally argued that they have become associated with a three-stripe logo — in fact, they capitalize it in their filings as “Three Stripe Mark” — and like any trademark holder they seek to protect their branding. I have argued in the past that trademark law is heavily abused, especially by those who can afford high-powered legal representation, and from the pictures I have seen of the BLM trademark it seems to be quite the stretch to assume anybody would mistake it for the German shoe and clothing company. On the other hand, I can’t help but look with disdain upon the apparent commercialization of BLM. From Reuters:

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is the most prominent entity in the decentralized Black Lives Matter movement, which arose a decade ago in protest against police violence against Black people.

The group applied for a federal trademark in November 2020 covering a yellow three-stripe design to use on a variety of products including clothing, publications, bags, bracelets and mugs.

So there you have it: after cornering the real estate market, BLM is apparently going to be peddling logo swag, no doubt shoddily made in some repressive and autocratic country by exploited low-wage workers who have no other occupational options. And Adidas has been cowed into accepting a potential logo infringement which they almost certainly would have fought tooth-and-nail had it been any other corporation. It would seem that Adidas is currently dealing with some pretty troubling issues, according to the NRO article:

Despite the remarkably strong filing, the company decided all of the benefits to ensuring the Black Lives Matter trademark application is rejected were outweighed by the risk — the risk of being misinterpreted as against the cause.

Since 2008, Adidas has filed over 90 lawsuits and signed more than 200 settlement agreements related to the three-stripe trademark, as court documents in a dispute against Thom Browne’s fashion house revealed. In that case, the jury found Thom Browne’s four-stripe motif did not violate the trademark.

Adidas is already struggling financially after ending the lucrative Yeezy contract with Kanye West for his antisemitic public remarks. The company is now under the leadership of Bjørn Gulden, who is attempting to lead Adidas through the West fiasco, as well as a ruptured deal with Beyoncé and sales that are tanking in China, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Someday, some brave souls are going to decide that BLM’s contribution to society is not commensurate with the obsequious deference they are being given, but I guess that day is still well into the future. In the meantime, Adidas deserves all of the headaches that are coming their way.


More Reasons the Potential Trump Charge Is Not Necessarily That Much of a Stretch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:22 am

Over the weekend, David French had a piece in the New York Times arguing that the potential prosecution of Trump in Manhattan is unwise. I didn’t know about it until I listened to the Advisory Opinions podcast yesterday because I don’t make a habit of reading the New York Times. (Sorry, David!) I learned some interesting information from the piece and the podcast, though, about the statute of limitations argument that was part of what had Sarah Isgur losing sleep. Namely, there is almost certainly no statute of limitations problem, because of a weird quirk of New York statute of limitations law:

New York law states that the limitation period, whether two or five years, does not include “any period following the commission of the offense” when “the defendant was continuously outside this state.” A 1999 New York Court of Appeals case held that the law meant that “all periods of a day or more that a nonresident defendant is out of state should be totaled and toll the statute of limitations.” Under that reading, that statute of limitations clock stopped ticking when Trump was away.

Trump was “away” a while, since he was president for four years. This means that, for the felony, there is almost certainly no statute of limitations issue.

That leaves two primary objections: a) the difficulties of proving that a payment to hush up an affair is a campaign finance violation, and b) the oft-stated claim by French and Isgur that the feds declined to prosecute the conduct that elevates the crime to a felony. We’ll start with the latter issue. French says:

Even though I believe Cohen committed a campaign finance violation (and even though the Department of Justice mounted an unsuccessful prosecution of the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards on a similar legal theory), I’m still skeptical of Bragg’s Manhattan case. Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann recently argued in these pages that “it would be anathema to the rule of law not to prosecute the principal for the crime when a lower-level conspirator”— meaning Cohen — “has been prosecuted.” Yet that’s exactly the choice the Department of Justice made. Neither the Trump nor the Biden Justice Department brought federal charges against Trump. In addition, Cyrus Vance Jr., a previous Manhattan district attorney, investigated the same case and did not bring charges.

Add these factors, and Bragg’s case against Trump starts to look, well, unique. We’re talking about the first-ever indictment of a former president brought by a state district attorney — one that his predecessor didn’t choose to seek and that relies on federal criminal claims that the Department of Justice declined to prosecute.

As I argued in a long Substack piece, I disagree with French and Isgur that the potential New York felony charge “relies on federal criminal claims that the Department of Justice declined to prosecute.” In my piece, I argued that the relevant “federal criminal claims” could be the campaign finance charge against Michael Cohen, which the feds did prosecute and as to which they obtained a conviction. All the state prosecutor need show is that Trump falsified records to conceal Cohen’s crime. Consult my piece for the full argument.

Also, in my piece I argued that you can’t attribute too much significance to the feds having declined to prosecute Trump for this behavior. They weren’t allowed to prosecute Trump while he was president under longstanding DOJ policy. Once Biden took office, reporting suggests they thought the incident trivial in light of the events of January 6. It’s how Trump escapes liability for thing a; the next day he commits thing b, which is worse. (He escapes liability for thing b by committing thing c, which is still worse. Etc. We’ve been through the alphabet of depravity multiple times over now.)

Isgur tells me (see comments here) that my post might be in the show notes for the next episode of Advisory Opinions, which is a hint that they might be discussing my arguments today. If so, how exciting! If that does come to pass, you guys will be among the first to hear about it.

That leaves the second potential objection: showing a hush money payment to the other half of an adulterous pair is a campaign expense. I don’t think this part is all that hard, the dreaded John Edwards case notwithstanding, because of the timing element. And in his recent piece, French agrees, citing an older piece of his in which he argued that the facts of this case are much stronger than in the John Edwards case. The timing of the payments–close to the election despite a years-old affair–are striking. And as I have written before, the treatment of the similar Karen McDougal affair by the National Enquirer appears to have been motivated by campaign purposes, at least in part. As I explained in 2018, a Wall Street Journal story reported on all this at the time:

[T]he Wall Street Journal reported it on November 9 (credit to Justin Miller for catching this):

As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

I find it very interesting that David Pecker was apparently a witness at the grand jury Monday.

Keep in mind that the payments don’t have to have been exclusively for campaign purposes. The intent need only include a motive to influence the election. Even John Edwards’s jury was instructed:

If you find beyond a reasonable doubt that one of [the donor’s] purposes was to influence an election, then that would be sufficient.

(My italics.) As French argued in 2018:

Here is the fundamental reality, Republicans — there is already far more evidence of legal culpability against Trump than ever existed against Edwards, and a federal judge permitted the Edwards case to go to trial. It is true that, if Trump does eventually face indictment, a different judge may have a different view of the law, but if Trump is counting on a favorable legal ruling, he’s playing a dangerous game indeed.

I agree. And now that we know that the statute of limitations issue is of no moment, and given my arguments that it is essentially irrelevant that the feds declined to prosecute Cohen . . . I don’t think this charge would be as much of a stretch as the rest of the crowd all agrees it is.

I guess we’ll see.

UPDATE: Sounds like they did discuss my Substack analysis on the podcast, briefly:

I hope they hit on the point that it could be Cohen’s crime that Trump was trying to cover up.

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0565 secs.