News Radio 700 W wells government rock I remember when I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke that Ohio State was trying to patent the word Duff, as in the Ohio State University.
No, but apparently, some smart folks have figured out that's probably very very valuable because then you can then put that on a t shirt you can put it on a hat and you can be the only person that can put it on a t shirt and a hat and therefore worthwhile is it's a pretty genius. I'll give you an example you know for Notre Dame you got to play like a champion today sign right everyone knows that are now have I even went there Right. And I had thought that that sign had been hanging there like Newt Rockne put it up or something right. No, Lou Holtz put it up in like 1986 Okay,
I did. I thought the Four Horsemen and run by
exactly yeah. Yeah, I Paul whoring himself but but I guess a group like a whole like a, you know, LLC of Lou Holtz, Rick Meyer, Derek Mays and a couple other folks patented it, like in 2008. And it's like, no one thought of that to do that until 2008. You know, so it's, I guess it can be fairly,
fairly profitable. But the trademark on the has been awarded to Ohio State University as of just recently. And we wanted to talk to our good friend, we've had him on many times, always great, the patent professor, our good friend, John Rizvi. And, John, how does something like this work? That way? You can trademark the word the?
Yeah, well, I'm getting a lot of calls on this and for good reason, because just like I heard you guys earlier, like play like a champion, at least it's got a It's a phrase, right? It's not just a single word like the, the might be the most common use word in the English language, how to how one can own that. And I think that's it kind of is, like a fundamental misunderstanding of trademark law. So when you, you get a trademark, you're not stopping anybody from using the names. I don't know, if you remember, several years ago, Trump applied for you're fired. And there's this huge uproar, because everyone's like, Oh, what are we supposed to say? When we when we
was doing the apprentice? Yeah.
Right. Right. But, but trademarks are for, for commerce. So if you're selling a product, or goods or services, and you're using a specific word, that word can be owned by us. As a trademark, it can be your brand, but for that specific product, like one example is apple. So I mean, yeah, how can one company own the word apple? Like people might ask that? Well, they don't. And they do. They own the word apple, when it comes to computers, when it comes to cell phones, electronics, they have a whole slew of classes that they've applied for. But that doesn't mean you have to go to the grocery store, see this nice crispy fruit and come up with some other you know, you can't see it, it doesn't stop. You know, you don't have to point and say, Oh, I have one of those.
That red thing over there, please.
But I mean, if you think Ohio State University's is, you know, I went to the University of Miami, the law school in the University of Miami has a trademark on a logo for a you. So that's not a word, that's a letter. But again, it's for specific categories. And it's not doesn't give them broad, you know, unfettered infringement accent, you know, claims against anybody having the letter you in anything. So it's just, it's specifically for certain goods or services. I mean, in the case of the Ohio State University, it's for clothing. So anyone selling specifically clothing, T shirts, baseball, caps, hats, things of that nature, the word V could be problematic, but if it's by itself,
then it doesn't preclude like, say, like, for Father's Day, you know, like your kid gets a baseball cap with the world's greatest dad on it. That's, that's precluded from something like that, right. I'm obviously
yeah, absolutely not. There's no confusion. I mean, you know, a lot of times and you see slogans and drawings and pictures and things on T shirts. They're not identifying the brand that's really just an ornamental decorative part on the front of the t shirt. Typically, the tag on the back like Well, you see, like the Fruit of the Loom, you'd have those tags on the back now they have like a sticker so it doesn't, you know, get your neck or whatever, but that's the brand that's you'll you'll see a hanging tag or you'll have something on the back of the t shirt around the collar. That's the brand so that the is used as a brand by the Ohio State University. So when they so that's different than the world's greatest, you know, somebody putting the world's greatest dad just because it was the is on a t shirt doesn't mean that there's that consumers are confused and think that it's a brand.
But John does does it preclude some entities from being able to say, The Ohio State University, whether it's on television or social media? And I'll give you an example. And I don't know the full details, but I feel like, like March Madness, like you're not allowed to say that on television or ESPN, we're not allowed to say it because someone else owns that. So it doesn't preclude I mean, can you patent a phrase and therefore certain entities can even say it for the benefit of their company?
Yes, so one of the factors that the trademark office looks at is, you know, the importance of a phrase or a brand, for competitors to sell something similar. So, I mean, the thing is, the more common term that the less broad protection is given, so the word v is going to be given extremely low protection, because it's just the need for competitors to have to use that as part of their brand is high, but it doesn't, you know, they certainly the they can't use it by itself, and sell T shirts, caps or hats, that could be problematic, because consumers might believe it's a product put out by the Ohio State University or affiliated somehow with the Ohio State University.
Well, in it's like the Super Bowl, I mean, to go along with rock what he said about March Madness, the the Super Bowl every year, you hear people talking about, Oh, get a big game, get a pizza for the big game. If you're having a Super Bowl party, get a couple of pizzas. Big game coming up. And I
assume John is just so like, the advertisers don't have to pay the NFL the money to say the word life. So they're advertised and make money off the word Super Bowl.
Yeah, so I mean, you bring up an interesting point, sometimes for companies, you know, corporations, it's a term that they don't even put forward. It's just the consumers in general, start developing a name, or a nickname for something the Volkswagen Beetle is is an example like consumer started referring to it as a bug. The company never officially they didn't start that that was just what people started calling the car. And then the trademark, they decided afterwards, hey, we better protect this. So a competitor doesn't create a vehicle, which seems a little far fetched and cotton called Code a bug. So that's that's the case. I mean, I don't know if the big game is something that started by fans that started referring to the Super Bowl is the big game, or it's something initiated by the NFL, I actually don't don't remember. But the I don't know. But the reality is, it doesn't matter if they if consumers start associating it, and the NFL decides to file for a trademark, then and sell specific goods and services, then it very well may be registered and then get protected.
Yeah, it doesn't mean we're talking to John Rizvi or pet professor here. And Jonathan reminds me and I don't know, Rocky, I'm, you probably remember this back in the day when the internet was fairly new. And people were squatting on possible websites. You know, let's, let's say that, you know, you were in college, and somebody would be like, You know what, this guy might become a professional football player. I'm going to squat on Rocky Boy med.com. And then you'd have to buy it from him.
That actually has happened because when I went to put my book out, I wanted to get rocky boylan.com. somebody owns that. And I went to the through an intermediary went to the person said, Hey, what do I need to get that air? Here's 100 bucks, and they said 7500 bucks. We'll start there. And I said, Go screw yourself. And so now my website is the rocky.
Obviously, that stuff. So happening. Yep.
Yeah, so you're right. I mean, the early days of the Internet, there was no really no protection against that. I mean, now there's the anti cybersquatting protection act to prevent that. But it just goes to illustrate that the law is always a little bit behind technology. I mean, there's not in the early days of flying drones. I mean, there were there were no regulation, there's no laws, you could practically fly a drone anywhere. And the laws catch up after the fact when people realize, you know, and start regulating and realize hey, these things can be dangerous. It could be public. Safety could be at stake or whatever. And the same thing with the internet like they were, you're right, people were registering cybersquatters domain names to trademarks and trying to and holding them ransom in a lot of times they were successful just because they were There's no precedent on how a company could get their name back. They also were registering generic names, I don't know if you remember, there's names like drugstore.com pizza.com, these domain names were sold multi millions of dollars. A lot of times they were registered by kids like some, you know, 1820 year old kid registers drugstore.com. Because the large, most huge multinational corporations didn't wizened up to the possible value that a domain name could have. Well, yeah, I'd
seem to remember that some of the big car manufacturers had a problem with that. I don't know why I think Toyota sticks on my brain. I want to say Chevy. I don't remember. But it just seems like several of those guys got caught with, you know, with our pants down and they had to pay. Like you said big bucks.
Yep, absolutely. I mean, it even happens. I don't want to get too much into politics. But I remember, I believe George bush.com or something with one of the recent elections, Donald Trump registered that domain name. You Oh, Jeb bush.com You registered the domain name before the bush never heard campaign was able to go to get it captured. So these things happen. It's just it's critical, you know, to keep keep abreast of these changes, because technology is changing very quickly. And companies have to be you have to keep up or else you could lose huge rights. I mean, right now, the latest land grabs, so to speak is in the metaverse like people registering trademarks for use in the second universe, so to speak, that's in you know, in cyberspace.
So they're cybersquatting on cyber stuff.
This makes my head hurt. Exactly. Like the currency and all, John that's,
that's another conversation altogether. We've kept it too long. I really appreciate you talking to it, too, as John Rizvi, the patent professor, the patent professor.com Thanks so much, man. Always a pleasure
to be here. Thank you.
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