Friday, June 15, 2007

Can The US government Infringe on Trademark

The Transportation Security Administration has setup a new page on their website to react to the recent story about a woman being detained at DCA Reagan Airport for spilling her toddler's "sippy" cup. I'm not going to discuss the specifics of that case, as it's not important.

What is interesting, is that the new section of TSA's website is called "MythBusters". As many of you may know, MythBusters is the name of a hugely popular TV show on the Discovery Channel.

It turns out that Discovery Communications has registered the term MythBusters with the US Trademark office as: Entertainment services in the nature of non-fiction television programming featuring examination of popularly held beliefs and misinformation; information regarding same provided via a global computer network.

Trademark isn't really an area of IP law that I know too much about. My (limited) expertise thus far is mainly in copyright - as it is the area that I'm most likely to get myself in trouble with.

I know that the US government has carved itself a number of exceptions in other areas of the law. For example, the US government cannot commit the tort of "patent infringement" - and instead, merely has to pay "reasonable and entire compensation" to a patent owner for the unauthorized use of a patent.

So - I pose the question to those out there who know more about the law than me:

Can TSA name a section of their website MythBusters (note, even the same capitalization as the TV show) without breaking any laws? TSA's new website provides video footage that examines popularly held beliefs and misinformation, which is then delivered via a global computer network (the Internet).

Is this legit, or did TSA fail to run this by their in-house counsel?

No comments: