Gadgets, Widgets, and Things

Oh my, as Dick Enberg (or was it Dorothy Gale?) would say.

A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana granted a defense motion for summary judgment the other day in a case brought by Firefly Digital against Google, seeking to enforce Firefly’s “Gadget” mark, and some related marks (“Website Gadget”) registered at both federal and state levels, with respect to Google Gadgets.  For purposes of the case, as well as in the real world, both firms offer products/services in the website design and management space.

The judge decided that the word “gadget” is generic in this context, analogous to (and often defined both colloquially and in the design space by the equally generic) “widget,” and not that far, one infers, from the word “thing.”   The court did not discuss the close cousins of gadget:  “thingy,” “thingamabob,” “thingamajig,” “doohickey,” “doodad,” “gizmo,” “whatsit,” and “whatchamacallit,” at least some of which no doubt are the subjects of federal trademark registrations, as “gadget” was.  Having found “gadget” generic, the court ordered the cancellation of the plaintiff’s state and federal registrations.

My interest in “things” of all kinds (get it?) is traceable, as long-time blog readers know, to this article.  Law does not find things; it makes them, just as web designers make gadgets and widgets.  We “things” scholars form an interesting little community, winking and nodding at one another at conferences whenever a speaker makes a casual reference to law’s treatment of a “thing.”  For a more recent version of the “what is a thing?” inquiry, see this paper from across the pond.

[Firefly Digital v. Google, Inc. was spotted via law360.]