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Same Old NFL: League Abuses Trademark to Shut Down New York Jets Parody Store


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On 1/30/2020 at 9:38 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

I run a store selling merch for frustrated Jets fans (read: all Jets fans) that the NFL got taken down through a baseless trademark infringement claim. Thankfully, I have the support of the amazing Electronic Frontier Foundation behind me, who are representing me as pro bono legal counsel to fight the league. Here's a blog post they put up today explaining why the NFL's claims are nonsense.

Would appreciate any support from fellow Jets fans in spreading the word and sharing the blog post!

SOJ Store Logo 2.png

You're not going to get much traction with this. You posted this in January when we're excited about the upcoming draft and free agency. Had this happened around Halloween time when our season is usually pretty much over, you would have overwhelming support. 

For the record though, this is trademark infringement. The only thing that I believe you feel sucks about it is that they're only using that infringement against you when tons of other folks create merch using their trademarks/name/likeness, which is true. 

You have to have known that if you were going to use this to criticize the team that the owners were going to attempt to put an end to it. 

Dont waste your time fighting that. Chop it up as it being awesome while it lasted. 👍

 

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I run a store selling merch for frustrated Jets fans (read: all Jets fans) that the NFL got taken down through a baseless trademark infringement claim. Thankfully, I have the support of the amazing El

I wouldn't exactly call it abuse. You're an IP Pirate.  And no, it isn't as cool as the word pirate might imply. Also, if you think folks won't realize this is just an ad thread for your kno

Lock, dump, ban, kill.    Good luck with your store!

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8 hours ago, Maxman said:

Here you go again moderating the board. If we want you to chase posters away we will make the font size bigger on your posts.

Otherwise just let it go.

I think you misread my post, I didnt tell him to go away or leave.  Actually I don't want him to go, I find his stance interesting.  Wrong, but interesting.

He says he's here to gauge opinions and then neg reps everyone of MY posts for disagreeing with him.  I'm talking about MY POSTs in a public discussion.  Others have said the same to him and he neg reps them too.  Only significance to me is whether that's really a person looking for opinions.  I don't need to speak for others, don't feel that I need to, they've been pretty vocal too.  I don't agree with the whole tone of his product and especially the idea that someone should be allowed or even feel that they should be allowed to profit off of a team or company brand.  One that the Jets have spent so much to build and protect.  Actually pretty interesting debate, no matter what side you line up on.

Just my opinion, I didn't tell him or want him to go away to that his company should go away.  Just to be fair and consider those who don't agree with him.  

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On 1/30/2020 at 4:40 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

Just to clear up any confusion about trademark infringement and why my store is 100% not violating it...

The law has nothing to do with whether or not my logo is clearly the Jets logo with a couple words changed. Whether or not something infringes on a trademark solely depends on whether or not consumers are likely to believe the trademark holder approved or is selling the gear, which clearly isn't the case here. On top of that... there's additional protection through 1A and fair use that apply here. 

It's quite clear and simple.  You stole the logo, made a minor change in adding Same Old and are trying to sell them.  That is NOT parody, nor will it live up to the parody exception standards.    Do you even know what parody means?  I hate to say it, but your attorney probably isn't very good.

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On 1/30/2020 at 4:46 PM, Sperm Edwards said:

It's not even like the target audience to buy your merchandise is different than theirs. Only a Jets fan would wear this, as you pretty much acknowledge in this thread. You are clearly trying to sell Jets-branded merchandise to Jets fans, and are stealing their trademarked logo to do so. That you altered the logo slightly is immaterial. 

You have no chance, nor should you. 

If you were a professional comedian with a show or video podcast, and just created this as a fake logo to put on the screen for 30 seconds during your bit, that would be parody. Even then - if the team so desired - they still might be able to get a TRO to get you to stop rebroadcasting it on your website (plus other sites, too, like YouTube) if the team/owner claims it's damaging the brand and/or reputation (our own follow-up jokes to that claim notwithstanding). 

What's more, this is a brand new logo the team (pathetically) invested heavily into, was very excited about, and only unveiled less than 1 year ago.

The reason there is such a law is it's stealing. It's their logo. They own it. You are trying to use it on your merchandise to sell and make a profit, and you did so without the team's consent/permission. That's stealing. That you slightly altered it is a silly argument, since it's obviously only identifiable because you stole their trademarked design in the first place.

If you made you shirt without using the Jets logo and swoosh mark, and in particular if you further used an open source bolt-italic font rather than the one identified with (and I think owned by) the team, then you could do this. But of course no fans would be interested in buying that from you nor wearing it even if given to them for free...which is the very point.

Only thing I could see is if you only copied the font alone (or used a similar but not identical font), but without the Jets logo or that stupid door wedge version of a Nike swoosh. Like the Just End The Season and similar shirts I've seen. That you'd likely get away with, just like the Idzik/Woody billboard. But if that billboard or shirt went up including a blatant ripoff of their logo with swoosh? No. 

exactly. Well stated.   Maybe his pro bono attorney who is claiming to be an intellectual property expert should be reading this and doing a little research on the Parody exceptions to copyright infringement.  I'm no expert on that legal field, but the little knowledge I have, including what I've read on parody exceptions do not fit this situation.  His attorney has made a huge mistake and is wasting everyone's time.  He hasn't got a chance.  Maybe the dude is just looking for some publicity and is using this as a way to prop himself up.  

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On 1/30/2020 at 4:47 PM, Jetsfan80 said:

Law-Talkin' Guys®

 

ex-attorney here.  Left the practice in my 30's and never looked back.   Been retired for for decades.  NYU Law School  is (or was at the time)  probably #1 in the country on Intellectual Property Law (at least it was way back in the 80's and 90's).  I didn't practice in that field and I took just one Copyright class as an elective 30+ years ago and one of the things I remember (in addition to John Fogerty's famous and ridiculous case) were claims of "parody" and decisions related thereto.

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I thought the parody exception was that the idea the jets would release this is so absurd that no one would believe it.  Like the Larry Flint case where the parody of Jerry Falwell or whoever.  I think this is different given it involves the marketing of a product, making money off of the Jets logo, is not a parody of a public figure characterized in a magazine

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On 1/30/2020 at 8:33 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

I'm going to guess the NFL's perspective is that they can send trademark infringement claims to anyone selling any product that has anything to do with any NFL team, whether or not the claim has any validity, and they know that 99.9% of the time the threat alone will scare that person off and they'll close down shop. 

If you use the team or NFL logo, then yes, the NFL will attempt to shut you down.  If you just use a team name, then no.  It's the minute your stuff starts resembling the same NFL/Jets stuff (as they already do) you are infringing.  That parody excuse is so off-base, I can't believe your attorney doesn't see that.  Dunce.

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On 1/30/2020 at 8:44 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

That's actually not true. Weird Al asks artists if he can do parodies of their songs out of respect for them, but there's no copyright violation with parody music because of the fair use doctrine (which is the same thing I'm arguing applies here). You can read more about Weird Al specifically here.

Your situation is NOT analagous to the parody that Weird Al does.   Not even close.  Best of luck, but you will certainly lose this batttle.  

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On 1/30/2020 at 9:24 PM, RutgersJetFan said:

So I hate to break it to you but your attorney sucks. That is a complete misapplication of nominative use. That's not how the concept works nor how it is applied. Unless the judge hates Woody Johnson you are fighting a losing battle here. It's the exact same logo and you are making money off of it.

^ I hope he reads this.  He is wasting his time.

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On 1/30/2020 at 9:33 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

I'm quite enjoying my first day here 🤣

you should.  You've already received smart legal advice, and way better than your current quack's, that should help you understand that your chances to win this are so minimal, that maybe it would be prudent to reconsider this line of work.

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On 1/30/2020 at 10:52 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

Fair question and fair point. I'm asking for help for the same reason that EFF put out a blog post about the trademark infringement claim today... to draw attention to the situation and put pressure on the NFL and/or Shopify to back off.

they won't when they are 100% correct.

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18 minutes ago, Dcat said:

Your situation is NOT analagous to the parody that Weird Al does.   Not even close.  Best of luck, but you will certainly lose this batttle.  

I always assumed that Weird Al received permission from - and paid royalties to - the artists he parodied. I had heard an interview he did on a podcast with Chuck Klosterman years ago where he said he seeks the blessing of the artist's he mimics. I guess that doesn't mean he has (or requires) legal permission.

I'm not a lawyer, but it is hard for me to understand how royalties are paid for sampling but taking an entire tune and changing the lyrics is legally ok.

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3 hours ago, Jet Nut said:

I thought the parody exception was that the idea the jets would release this is so absurd that no one would believe it.  Like the Larry Flint case where the parody of Jerry Falwell or whoever.  I think this is different given it involves the marketing of a product, making money off of the Jets logo, is not a parody of a public figure characterized in a magazine

Hustler was about libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Standards for parody of public figures and officials is a different category of law.

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3 hours ago, Dcat said:

If you use the team or NFL logo, then yes, the NFL will attempt to shut you down.  If you just use a team name, then no.  It's the minute your stuff starts resembling the same NFL/Jets stuff (as they already do) you are infringing.  That parody excuse is so off-base, I can't believe your attorney doesn't see that.  Dunce.

Smart attorneys get paid either way, don't they?

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19 minutes ago, RutgersJetFan said:

Hustler was about libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Standards for parody of public figures and officials is a different category of law.

Thanks, that's what I was trying to say, I think.  

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4 hours ago, y2k8 said:

I always assumed that Weird Al received permission from - and paid royalties to - the artists he parodied. I had heard an interview he did on a podcast with Chuck Klosterman years ago where he said he seeks the blessing of the artist's he mimics. I guess that doesn't mean he has (or requires) legal permission.

I'm not a lawyer, but it is hard for me to understand how royalties are paid for sampling but taking an entire tune and changing the lyrics is legally ok.

Yankovich always got pre approval

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On 1/30/2020 at 4:12 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

Did you read the blog post, written by my attorney, who is a trademark attorney? Here's the relevant excerpt:

 

The issue is you are stealing a logo that was created for another company for your financial gain. I design logos for a living and I would sue if anyone stole my designs without paying for them first or had anything similar in a competing type of business.

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17 hours ago, y2k8 said:

I guess that doesn't mean he has (or requires) legal permission.

He actually said that he only does that out of respect for the artists. Parody songs that completely alter the lyrics are 100% legal and no royalties need to be paid to whoever has ownership rights to the original song. Here's a quote from a legal paper on the subject:

Quote

As noted above, Mr. Yankovic's "sound alike" re-recordings of the original records do not run afoul of the copyright owner's rights in such original recordings, pursuant to section 114 of the Copyright Act. Likewise, since there is no threat of "confusion" in the marketplace caused by his parodies, lampooned recording artists are unlikely to have a cause of action against Mr. Yankovic based on violation of the various unfair competition statutes.

And another one:

Quote

Despite the unlikelihood of litigation, Weird Al always obtains permission from the original artist. He has stated, ”I have a long-standing history of respecting artists’ wishes. So if (the artist) himself were objecting, I wouldn’t even offer my parody for free on my Web site.”

 

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On 1/30/2020 at 3:34 PM, sameoldjetsstore said:

I can't give you my customer list, but they're probably the same kinds of people who bought thousands of The 7 Line's "Sell The Team" Mets shirts years ago before they partnered with the team. Or the kinda people who chant "Sell The Team" at MSG during a Knicks game. Or the thousands of Redskins fans who chanted "sell the team" at a game.

Chanting in a game and using someone’s trademark to make a cheap buck or two are two completely different things. You sell my trademark, I’ll tear down your shop. 

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I would think an artists benefit from Weird Als parodies of their songs.  Songs have a shelf life and by the time WA gets to them the song in on its way out.  WAs parody version of a song gets it back in the spotlight and I would think helps sell a few more copies or plays of a song.  So I don't see why an artist would be against WA.  

Stealing a teams logo for use in a tee that ridicules the team, presents that team in a poor light and doesn't help market the team isn't quite what owners would want and would fight to stop.  Goes against the image a team wants to promote.  

 

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4 hours ago, Jet Nut said:

I would think an artists benefit from Weird Als parodies of their songs.  Songs have a shelf life and by the time WA gets to them the song in on its way out.  WAs parody version of a song gets it back in the spotlight and I would think helps sell a few more copies or plays of a song.  So I don't see why an artist would be against WA.  

Stealing a teams logo for use in a tee that ridicules the team, presents that team in a poor light and doesn't help market the team isn't quite what owners would want and would fight to stop.  Goes against the image a team wants to promote.  

 

Maybe in a rare instance his parodies might benefit a song or two - but I highly doubt it.  His bread and butter was always mimicking new songs in the pop consciousness.  I doubt even Weird Al would agree with your thesis.

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