Terrible Towels, Who’s your Daddy? and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm

Pittsburg Steelers start 2020 with a win – and so does their Terrible Towel

Steelers Nation should be pleased with their recent wins on the field and in court. “The Terrible Towel,” waived by Steelers fans at home games, kicked the season off in a trademark lawsuit alleging infringement by “The Terrible Mask.” The Terrible Towel was originally created by Pittsburg sports broadcaster Myron Cope during the 1975 playoffs, which he registered as a trademark, along with similar “Terrible” marks. In 1996 Cope assigned his rights to these marks to a school serving disabled persons, which were then assigned to Eamon Foundation, the school’s charitable foundation. This past summer, Eamon learned of a company selling face masks and gaiters bearing “The Terrible Mask” in the Steelers team colors with the same stylistic lettering on the front. Eamon first asked the company to stop making and selling the masks with a cease-and-desist letter. The company responded that it had a license from Cope relating to the Terrible marks, but was never able to produce a copy. Eamon filed suit for trademark infringement in August, and the case settled about a week later. The company agreed to stop selling its Terrible Masks, recall the masks it had already sold, and to avoid using the phrase “the terrible.”

Settlement within a week of filing suit is almost as fun as blocking a punt and running it in for the score. Never underestimate the power of protecting your brand with trademark registration.

Who’s your Daddy? “Super Sires” are a step closer with a breakthrough in livestock gene-editing

Using “surrogate sires” to deliver desirable genetics throughout livestock herds recently achieved a big step forward with the help of CRISPR gene-editing technology. Animal embryos were gene-edited to create sterile male livestock which were then implanted with stem cells from donor animals. The result was a male that produced the sperm containing the genetics of the donor. Creating surrogate sires would allow faster dissemination of desirable traits in livestock herds and overcome the long, slow process of selective breeding and artificial insemination. The donors (maybe the grand champions at a major livestock show) could become “super sires” with surrogates spreading their genetics to herds far and wide. Whether this technology ever becomes commercialized will depend on public and government acceptance.

Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions

“What is “Unfair Competition?”

Competitors in any business get fired up when they believe someone in the bunch is being “unfair.” Unfair competition law aims to keep a level playing field among competitors by outlawing business practices that are fraudulent, deceptive, or misappropriate someone else’s goodwill. Examples include:

  • trademark infringement
  • false designation of origin
  • trade dress infringement
  • unauthorized substitution (bait-and-switch)
  • false advertising
  • breach of a non-compete agreement
  • counterfeiting

These sorts of practices typically mislead consumers too. As Hawkeye (Alan Alda) said: “Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they’re fair with you.”

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