Trademark Law Memo Assignments – Spring 2012

Each memo assignment for Trademark Law – Spring 2012 will be posted here approximately two weeks before the memo is due. Time in class will be set aside to discuss questions relating to each assignment.

For students who want to know more about the writing assignments for this course, this is a link to the memo assignments from the Fall 2009 version of the course. This is a link to the best memos written in response to the first assignment from the Fall 2008 version of the course.

Assignment Three

[Note to all: A complete copy of the Rosetta Stone v. Google opinion is available here.]

From: Senior Partner
To: Junior Associate
Date: April 20, 2012
Re: Client Advisory Requested – Rosetta Stone v. Google

As I am sure you noticed, the Fourth Circuit released its opinion the other day in Rosetta Stone v. Google. Because our firm represents Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, and other large and small companies that produce lots of consumer products with valuable brand names, what the court says in that case regarding trademark law is of crucial interest to them and to us.

I know that other courts have issued rulings regarding Google’s AdWords business and related things. Can you please track down a copy of the Rosetta Stone case and put together a brief client advisory memo (four pages, maximum) that assesses the significance of its trademark features, in light of other existing law? My plan is to add a couple of words of my own and then distribute the memo directly to our clients.

You are free to dispense with the usual Facts/Issue/Brief Answer format of a legal research memo if you wish. Just be sure to include enough background on the facts and relevant law so that the memo stands on its own as your statement of what the law is today and what our clients should and should not do as a result. What is new, what is not, what is settled, what is not, and what strategy or strategies are affected by the court’s ruling.

Thank you.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment Three

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any student “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

The work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at 12 noon. Memos should be delivered by email to the Registrar of the School of Law:  lawreg@pitt.edu. Please do *not* email memos directly to Professor Madison. Memos may also be turned in via hard copy either to Ms. Melissa Shimko, in Room 314, or handed personally to Professor Madison. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable. There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.

Assignment Two

[Note to all: The following hypothetical is entirely fictional. No similarity to actual products or services is intended or should be inferred. You should assume that the relevant marks are not substantially similar to nor would likely cause confusion with respect to any currently registered marks or common law marks, except to the extent described in the hypothetical itself.]

From: Senior Partner
To: Junior Associate
Date: March 25, 2012
Re: Road Runner and ACME

Our client, Road Runner Athletics (RR), operates a group of four retail storefronts in the Atlanta area that sell running shoes and related athletic gear. RR sells a line of American-made running shorts, shirts, and socks under the Road Runner mark, which includes a graphic “RR” logo. Back in 2008, five years after the stores opened and the company started selling its clothing line there, we obtained trademark registrations, one for the name “Road Runner” and the other for the graphic “RR” logo. Both registrations were in Class 25 (Clothing). In 2010, the company started to sell its products via a website (www.roadrunner.com). The company has only advertised locally, in the Atlanta area, via newspapers, magazines, and by sponsoring local races. So far as I know, the website has never received orders from anyone outside of that area

I just came back from a weeklong vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and while I was there I happened to notice an advertisement in a magazine that the local Chamber of Commerce supplies to local hotels. The ad was for a company called ACME Products, which apparently has been around for a while. (I did a quick Google search while I was sitting in the airport and discovered that ACME has been in business since 1935, selling only to customers in the desert Southwest, and only by mail order.) ACME was advertising a product that it called “Road Runner” running shoes, “specially designed for long runs in the New Mexico desert.” According to the ad, the shoes are a “new” product. A feature story in the same issue of the magazine described ACME as a company that had begun to move away from its historic roots as a distributor of anvils, concrete, and dynamite. In 2000, it apparently started to get into the athletic gear business, selling “roller skis” (I am not sure what those are) and vitamins.

I have alerted the client, and for obvious reasons they are concerned. But they are sensitive to cost. I need you to look into this for me and come up with a game plan and a recommendation.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment Two

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any student “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts; instead, you may refer to the factual background in my memo to you. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

One hard copy of the work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Monday, April 9, 2012, at 3:00 pm. Memos may be turned in either to the Registrar’s Window or to Ms. Melissa Shimko, in Room 314, or handed personally to Professor Madison. Electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable. There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.

Assignment One

[Note to all: The following hypothetical is entirely fictional. No similarity to actual products or services is intended or should be inferred. You should assume that the relevant marks are not substantially similar to nor would likely cause confusion with respect to any currently registered marks or common law marks.

The client and the company that you work for, Stuff for Lazy Students, Inc., supplies study aids and related books and material to sleep-deprived college and high school students.]

To: In-House Lawyer, Stuff for Lazy Students, Inc.
From: Marketing Manager, Stuff for Lazy Students, Inc.
Date: February 10, 2012
Re: Product Name / TM Question

My marketing department has come up with a new line of great books, and we have a question for you about our branding strategy.

The books themselves are short and fast study guides to basic subjects: science, history, math, English, and so on. To catch the eyes of students roaming the aisles of their college bookstores – and to stand out online in Google ads – we want to call the line of books “Cheap Handbook: Easy Essential Tips and Help,” or “CHEETAH.” We would offer “Math C.H.E.E.T.A.H.,” “History C.H.E.E.T.A.H.,” “Biology C.H.E.E.T.A.H.,” and so on. And we would design a cartoon Cheetah – the animal – as part of the logo that would appear on the cover of each book and in the advertising.

Naturally, we want to do everything that we can to protect our brand. Can you let me know whether our naming strategy poses any problems under the law? We have a lot of flexibility right now to change the name if we need to, or to re-design the covers of the books, and the ad campaign. Should we make any changes, and if so, what are they? My marketing team is accommodating, but we will need a brief – four-page max — explanation of the reasons, and we need it no later than February 24 so that we can meet our product launch schedule.

Thanks.

Rules and Guidelines for Assignment One

To the extent that these rules may appear to conflict with general advice regarding memos that appears in course-related webpages, these rules take precedence.

This is an “open” problem, meaning that there are no limits on the resources that you may bring to bear on your work. Among other things, you may consult with your classmates and other human beings. If you discuss the merits of the assignment with anyone, however, you must disclose that person’s identity on or in your memo. Write the names of any student “consultants” at the top of the first page of the memo.

Use your own name in the “From” field. The memos are not anonymous.

Format

Memos must be typed or printed using a computer. Each memo, including any attachments, must be not longer than four [4] typewritten or printed pages, double-spaced, with 1″ minimum margins on all sides. (“To,” “From,” “Re,” and “Date” headings may be single spaced.) You do not need to include a comprehensive statement of the facts; instead, you may refer to the factual background in my memo to you. A factual summary may be helpful, however, in framing and presenting the analysis of the memo. No footnotes are permitted. The following font must be used: Twelve [12] point Times New Roman.

Grading

Memoranda will be graded based on form, format, and writing quality as well as on content. The assignments are designed so as not to have any single correct or even best solution. Each problem may present a range of issues that the memorandum should identify, analyze, and solve in a creative way.

Due date

One hard copy of the work product prepared for this assignment must be turned in not later than Friday, February 24, 2012, at 3:00 pm. Memos may be turned in either to the Registrar’s Window or to Ms. Melissa Shimko, in Room 314, or handed personally to Professor Madison. Electronic (e-mailed) copies are not acceptable. Memos slipped under anyone’s door are not acceptable. There were be no extensions or exceptions to this deadline. Memoranda that do not conform to the format instructions above, or that are turned in late, are subject to grade reductions.