I started following a few lawyers on Twitter during the period between the election and the Inauguration – they would interpret the filings and rulings in the various cases that were being filed in an attempt to nullify the election. As the cases got nuttier, the interpretations got funnier.
One of the lawyers I’m still following is Akiva Cohen. He’s writing about topics other than the elections most of the time these days, but he still gives amusing disaster tours of goofy litigation. Yesterday, he wrote about a bonkers lawsuit against Wizards of the Coast (the owners of Dungeons and Dragons) by a new company, “TSR LLC”, which wanted D&D-related copyrights assigned to them on the grounds that Wizards wasn’t using them (which apparently is not possible).
His explanation ran for 40-50 tweets, going into the differences between trademarks and copyrights, and I laughed all the way through.
In discussing trademarks, he threw in a reference to “genericide” – when a company loses its trademark because they don’t defend it when it’s used to refer to an entire category of products (for example, “dry ice” was a trademark, owned by the DryIce Corporation of America).
Some companies go to extremes to defend their trademarks – both Coke and Pepsi used to send mystery shoppers to restaurants which didn’t carry their product to make sure that someone who asked for it was told it wasn’t available. A few years ago, the Velcro Company created a funny video begging people not to say “Velcro” when referring to hook and eye fastening cloth – I enjoyed it, as well as the “behind the scenes” video and the one with responses from viewers. Watch it here:
TSR LLC withdrew their complaint today, btw.