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Lawyer Trademarks "Cyberlaw" 81

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the race-to-the-trademark-office dept.
BigTimOBrien writes to mention the EFF is reporting that self-proclaimed cyberlawyer, Eric Menhart, has decided to trademark use of the term "cyberlaw" and is threatening other lawyers with legal action over the term. "I wish I could say I was surprised by this one, but such overreaching invocations of IP rights are all too common -- even where, as in this case, there are no actual "rights" to speak of. But an IP lawyer should know that courts (and trademark examiners, and many tech companies that might be potential clients) don't look kindly on efforts to abuse trademark law to control everyday language. Here's hoping Menhart figures that out fast."
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Lawyer Trademarks "Cyberlaw"

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  • ... will not work with regard to the chicks, I suspect, though.

    CC.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll wish the fellow luck on his quest (nothing like taking on a hard problem) but I don't like his chances of succeeding in trademarking the term . . .
    • by rs79 (71822)
      It took me lest than 4 seconds to find a refernce to "cyberlaw" from 1995. Is this guy nuts?

    • I'll wish the fellow luck on his quest (nothing like taking on a hard problem) but I don't like his chances of succeeding in trademarking the term . . .
      Some guy actually got a trademark on the term Y2K back in '99 or '98. Kind of makes you wonder .... So if someone can get a trademark on Y2K, which had been in common use for 30 years, then this guy just might get his cyberlaw.
      Scary
  • by mccalli (323026) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @05:37AM (#22106876) Homepage
    Anything to get rid of that horrible "cyber" prefix on ordinary stuff. Please make it all go away. Please.

    Cheers,
    Ian
  • I would say that needlessly trademarking quick buzzwords like that is obiously not what trademark law was meant for, but who really cares about "Cyber-____" ? That went out in like, the 80s. If he truly is trapped in the 80s, may God have mercy on his soul.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @05:49AM (#22106938) Homepage
    At least, the first mention of "cyberlaw" I can find on Google Groups is this EFF newsletter from 1992-04-30:

        http://groups.google.com/group/comp.org.eff.talk/msg/bc39f25662095d9a >

    • linkfix (Score:5, Informative)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @05:52AM (#22106954) Homepage
      Oops, reading old Usenet groups took me back. Here [google.com] is a proper link.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by EddyPearson (901263)
        From the above link

        The Matrix
        Cyberlaw
        NetTech
        Networlds
        Wetware
        FutureNets
        TechnoRisks
        Homesteading

        How can you take terms like these, and the people who use them, seriously?
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          How can you take terms like these, and the people who use them, seriously?

          It's easier than things like "necessary losses", "intellectual property", and "fresh frozen".

    • by gregorio (520049) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @08:28AM (#22107624)

      At least, the first mention of "cyberlaw" I can find on Google Groups is this EFF newsletter from 1992-04-30
      It doesn't matter. This is not a patent. Trademarks don't care about "prior art", but for registering and "continued usage" of the trademark. If the term can be proven to be generic, that can also disqualify a trademark registration. But if Donald Trump can trakemark "You're fired!" under a specific context, I'm pretty sure that "cyberlaw" can also be trademarked.
      • by Zeinfeld (263942)
        It doesn't matter. This is not a patent. Trademarks don't care about "prior art", but for registering and "continued usage" of the trademark.

        The rules are different, but there is an analogous requirement. We got the Linux trademark back from the shit who tried to steal it because he knew Linus had been using it for trade first and continuously since.

        • by gregorio (520049)

          We got the Linux trademark back from the shit who tried to steal it because he knew Linus had been using it for trade first and continuously since.
          Exactly: using it for trade. Just saying "omgwtfbbq eff used it first on a obscure usenet post" does not equal to "using it for trade", which is what the law requires.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Zeinfeld (263942)
            Exactly: using it for trade. Just saying "omgwtfbbq eff used it first on a obscure usenet post" does not equal to "using it for trade", which is what the law requires.

            Amazon has fifty books for sale with Cyberlaw in their title. None of them refer to this scumbag lawyer. The term is used as a generic, not a trademark.

            My own book has a Cyberlaw tag [amazon.com] on the Amazon cloud.

            I think the reason the EFF is upset is that they suspect a lawyer who uses this type of scumbag tactics probably isn't a very good lawye

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by tomhudson (43916)

              1. He's a lawyer
              2. Lawyers are people (well, sort of).
              3. Many people can be dumb as sacks of shit.
              4. Ergo, many lawyers are dumb sacks of shit.
              Most lawyers will be obsolete within 20 years. Why pay a lawyer to do shit that you can do yourself with a bit of research? Before the web, people couldn't easily do that research, so they ended up paying big bucks for what, in many cases, is filing paperwork and making the same arguments over and over.

              • by eyenot (102141)
                yeah, you no longer need privilege to enter the great legal libraries and study for paralegal. i helped a semi-retarded girl get her paralegal license by showing her where on the web to find the research materials she needed. anybody can do paralegal work, i did some in defense of a startup marketing/campaigning business in the areas of zoning and leasing restrictions particular to storefront and signage, and campaign finance reform law. without a license i managed to hold off a rabid township government fr
                • by tomhudson (43916)

                  Your story sounds interesting. Maybe we can post it here [theconsumeronline.com]. Read this [theconsumeronline.com] for more info. Thanks.

      • by spazdor (902907)

        But if Donald Trump can trakemark "You're fired!" under a specific context, I'm pretty sure that "cyberlaw" can also be trademarked.
        Only if he plans on trademarking 'cyberlaw' as a word for something *other* than what we've been using the word to mean for the past 15 years. Basically: if he's going to claim it as his word, he'd better have his own definition for it.
    • by ThreeGigs (239452)
      Do dictionary entries count?

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cyberlaw [reference.com]

      Maybe we can add his picture to TWO definitions :-)
      • by russotto (537200)

        Do dictionary entries count?

        Yes, in fact. If someone tries to trademark a word in its dictionary usage, the PTO is probably going to consider the use generic and thus not trademarkable.
    • by alanw (1822) *
      However, in this posting: http://groups.google.com/group/misc.legal.computing/msg/3837ddaae03fa209 [google.com] it seems that Jonathan Rosenoer claimed to have trademarked "Cyberlaw" in 1993.

      CyberLaw (tm) is published solely as an educational service. The author may be contacted at jr...@well.sf.ca.us; cyber...@aol.com; questions and comments may be posted on America Online (go to keyword "CYBERLAW"). Copyright(c) 1993 Jonathan Rosenoer; All Rights Reserved. CyberLaw is a trademark of Jonathan Rosenoer.

  • Isn't it just like a cheap soap opera? It's like watching the 512th episode of Dallas - the bad guy walks in, make some outrageous claim and uses all means to bully the good guys - again. Just like in episode 511, 510, 509, ... The bottom line here is that the world is full of bullies, who who really know what real life is and who don't care because they just want everything RIGHT NOW!!!
  • Quick! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Clueless Nick (883532)
    Somebody please trademark "Intellectual Property"! We'd certainly like to hear less of it.
  • Not Guilty (Score:3, Funny)

    by mtmihai (1209028) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:20AM (#22107090)
    I don't understand why is everybody focusing on this lawyer.
    The real culprit here is the idiot who approved the claim.
  • Where's Jack Cade when you need him?
  • I don't think I've ever used the word 'cyberlaw' ever, and I talk to lawyers on a pretty regular basis about laws pertaining to this Internet thing
  • (TM)Well (R)You (TM)know (TM), (R)it (R)was (c)bound (R)to (TM)happen (R)sometimes(TM). (R)((R)All (R)trademarks (R)owned (R)by (TM)their (R)owners(R))(TM).
  • by WK2 (1072560) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:15AM (#22107292) Homepage

    Wikipedia has something new to add to their article on Cyberlaw [wikipedia.org], which dates back to January, 2003.

  • ... 'unmitigated, indecypherable, unattuned asshole!'? (Captcha: attune)
  • Now who's going to come forth and claim cybersex? I'm sure someone here could ;).
  • Menhart, what have you done? You've changed the future! You've created a time paradox!
  • If he gets away with it I want to get in first with copywriting "Fire" and "Wheel"
  • ... when they start turning on themselves it must be a feeding frenzy.
  • Is it really wise to go after the one group most adequately prepared to sue back? Seriously, sue a bunch of lawyers? All you are going to end up with is a bunch of countersuits and years of legal wrangling. He should have picked a demographic to go after that couldn't arm themselves with infinite free legal representation. I mean, what, the RIAA has some sort of monopoly on suing the old and infirm?
  • Related information (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jay L (74152) * <jay+slash&jay,fm> on Saturday January 19, 2008 @10:08AM (#22108122) Homepage
    1. Eric, who graduated law school around 2005, was one of the lawyers who was scammed [washingtoncitypaper.com] in a work-from-home scheme on craigslist.

    2. He is currently suing the scammer, but apparently without success so far; his motion for discovery was denied [justia.com].

    3. His client successes [washingtoncitypaper.com] page consists of, essentially:
      (a) we won an anti-spam appeal... after we lost the initial case... in which we were the plaintiffs when we were in law school.
      (b) A startup needed some startup forms. We drafted some startup forms.
      (c) A journal needed some licensing forms. We drafted some licensing forms.

    4. His "Attorneys" page talks about "the people in the organization", and then lists: Eric Menhart. His two "Appellate Advocacy" cases include (a) his own case, from 3(a), and (b) one other case, which appears to be a TCPA junk fax lawsuit.

    5. His "Alliances" page starts by pointing out that he's only a few blocks from the White House, and "near" the Supreme Court and other courthouses - including being within 100 miles of other circuit courts. It then addresses the actual issue of alliances: They have "numerous strategic alliances with other lawyers and law firms around the nation." That's it.

    6. Among his seven "Practice Areas" pages, the only page actually claiming any experience is the "Litigation" page, which states: "CyberLaw® offers substantial litigation experience. When you retain the firm, your matter will be handled by an attorney with state and federal trial and appellate experience. The firm is also experienced with alternative dispute resolution proceedings, such as before the American Arbitration Association."

    We know from #3 that Eric gained "state and federal trial and appellate experience" by... filing a lawsuit on his own behalf as a law student, losing it, appealing it, and winning on appeal. And one other case. We don't know if he has other experience in a courtroom. We don't know what he means by "substantial".

    7. His "binary logo" - probably mandatory for any firm calling itself CyberLaw - is "11010101011010100101000". That's 23 bits.
    • maybe he meant to say 'substantiable', i.e. can be provided as substance or something real. numerically, he has a '1' bit for experience as opposed to a '0'; realistically, not all that 'substantial' but still, nevertheless, 'of substance'. who cares? he's a weasily worm who'll probably become somewhat of a laughingstock to professional lawyers but will be paraded around by mouth-breathing marketers and hoaxers until the day he's forced to sell his trademark to get out of debt.
    • 7. His "binary logo" - probably mandatory for any firm calling itself CyberLaw - is "11010101011010100101000". That's 23 bits.

      11010101011010100101000 is a valid base-2 number.

  • I know you can debunk a patent with prior art. Might not 'prior use' debunk this trademark?
    • by eyenot (102141)
      it's highly probable that "cyberlaw" appeared previously as a word in a science fiction story. if any author suddenly remembers that they were the one who actually coined the term, that might give them some IP rights (but who knows, any more).
    • That likely depends on the context. For example, the name 'McDonald' was around for centuries before the hamburger-slingers got a hold of it, but their use in the field of cheap, cloggy restaurant food was novel and defensible. The term 'Apple' was around for a long time before it got applied to computers (or, separately, records). But both uses were recognizably unique.

      This is different, though. This would be like Microsoft rechristening their office software as 'Word Processor(TM)', then sending "a po
  • A self-proclaimed lawyer is threatening real lawyers with legal action? Not sure if this is gonna work out.
  • Solve this very quickly: Dilute his trademark by spelling it lower case and use the term in a link to an(other) attorney's site. He can't sue the attorney and can't sue you. If you recall, Google got upset when everyone was using "googling" and they tried in vain to stop it because it would dilute the trademark they had created, and that was Google, a company that actually is doing something worth trademarking not some half-wit attorney who thinks he knows cyberlaw [harvard.edu] or even cyberlaw [stanford.edu] or possibly cyberlaw [cyberlawenforcement.org] and
  • I regret to inform you that I've trademarked the word 'trademark'. Please send me five dollars every time you use this term, or I'll send my cyber-lawyer after you.

  • Slashdot obliges by feeding the troll, as always. Yawn.
  • I've trademarked the name Eric Menhart
  • Unless this is just a publicity stunt (which I suspect it is, and is a bad one at that because it just shows how stupid he is,) this trademark will never get approved because it has no secondary meaning.
  • Stupid Stupid Word (Score:3, Informative)

    by MulluskO (305219) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:37PM (#22110004) Journal
    Am I the only one who things cyber is a stupid, stupid word?
    I never use it, even though it seems I'm sometimes surrounded by people that do.

    I prefer Electronic Crime or eCrime to Cybercrime, for example.
    Internet Cafe or Net Cafe to CyberCafe and so on.
  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:37PM (#22110006)
    Windows, Shell and there will be many others with common words. Walkman however is not.
  • Lawyers are about to be put out of business due to some recent developments [slashdot.org] in intelligent agents.
  • Wants to trademark the term "sue you"? He'd make a bank in his industry alone.
  • by hdon (1104251)
    You're Fired (tm)
  • They can trademark cyber-dork, use it in place of his name in every legal document he's involved in, and sue him for trademark infringement if he tries to use it in a defamation suit to get them to stop using it.
  • "My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims, like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. A sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament".

    Later on he should patent the ice cube :)

    From what I can gather from the web, without too researching it too deeply is:

    "Generic words that are widely used to describe any number of businesses in the same field may not be appropriated by a single competitor. For exampl

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