Trademark Law Blog
Battle Creek - Trademark Law Blog

Federal Court System and Pro Se Litigants:

Posted December 2, 2018

Although, in theory, they can proceed pro se, federal court litigants typically hire attorneys to help them navigate federal procedural rules as well as the substantive law that applies in their case. When parties do proceed pro se, they encounter significant challenges. A recent Federal Judicial Center report on pro se civil litigants (the “2011 FJC Report”) identified the following major issues in pro se cases: unnecessary or illegible submissions; problems with responses to motions; lack of knowledge about the law; failure to know when to object; and failure to understand the legal consequences of their actions or inactions. Similarly, a self-help center for pro se litigants established by the Northern District of California notes that pro se litigants are less likely to succeed in federal court “because they lack the [necessary] legal knowledge, training and experience.” Needless to say, such fundamental limitations can have significant consequences for the outcome of an action.

In light of these concerns, pro se litigants often receive more leeway from courts than parties represented by attorneys. For example, pro se pleadings generally are held to less stringent standards than those applied to attorney-drafted pleadings. Courts typically review pro se pleadings carefully and liberally and interpret such pleadings to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. Some districts also have local court rules designed to help pro se parties.5 The 2011 FJC Report specifically noted that effective ways to assist pro se litigants included the provision of clear orders and instructions, standardized forms, prompt decisions on matters submitted to the court, and use of hearings and conferences to better understand the case and let litigants know the court has heard their case. Additionally, the study identified two practices that were “especially helpful” in helping pro se litigants: dedicated court staff to provide specially tailored information to pro se litigants, including forms and instructions; and pro bono programs, including mediation/settlement procedures and pro se help centers.

Pro se copyright litigants occasionally find success managing the federal court system on their own. Nevertheless, proceeding pro se in the procedurally complex federal courts can be a risky endeavor in which rights or defenses may inadvertently be waived or otherwise jeopardized due to a lack of familiarity with the court system or substantive law.

United States Copyright Office Copyright Small Claims


Protection of Vessel Hull Designs - Affixation and Placement of Design Notice:

Posted November 6, 2018

The methods of affixation and placement of the design notice required by 17 U.S.C. 1306. Sections 1306 and 1307 govern the circumstances under which a design notice must be used and the effect of omission of a design notice. A notice deemed acceptable under this part shall be considered to satisfy the requirements of section 1306 that it be so located and applied as to give reasonable notice of design protection while the useful article embodying the design is passing through its normal channels of commerce. As provided in that section, the examples specified in this part shall not be considered exhaustive of the methods of affixation and locations giving reasonable notice of the claim of protection in the design.

The acceptability of a design notice under these regulations shall depend upon its being legible under normal conditions of use, and affixed in such a manner and position that, when affixed, it may be viewed upon reasonable examination. There is no requirement that a design notice be permanently embossed or engraved into a vessel hull or deck, but it should be affixed in such a manner that, under normal conditions of use, it is not likely to become unattached or illegible.

If the design has been registered, the registration number may be included in the design notice in place of the year of the date on which protection for the design commenced and the name of the owner, an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally accepted alternative designation of the owner. The elements of a design notice shall consist of:

  • The words “Protected Design”, the abbreviation “Prot'd Des.”, or the letter “D” within a circled in circle, or the symbol *D*;
  • The year of the date on which protection for the design commenced; and
  • The name of the owner, an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally accepted alternative designation of the owner.
  • Distinctive identification. Any distinctive identification of an owner may be used for purposes of paragraph (b)(3) of this section if it has been recorded by the Register of Copyrights pursuant to §212.5 before the design marked with such identification is registered.

The following are acceptable means of affixing and placement of a design notice:

  • In close proximity to the hull identification number required by 33 CFR 181.23;
  • In close proximity to the driver's console such that it is in plain view from the console;
  • If the vessel is twenty feet in length or less and is governed by 33 CFR 183.21, in close proximity to the capacity marking; and
  • In close proximity to the make and/or model designation of the vessel.

Title 37: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights; Section 212.4

Should I Register My Trademark?

Posted October 23, 2018

While having a trademark attorney is not required, the cost of having an intellectual property attorney ensure that your trademark is truly protective is usually insignificant in comparison to the time and capital invested in developing your product or service. There are several steps that that must be accomplished in order to obtain trademark protection. Not every trademark procurement follows the exact same path. However, this will give you a good overview of the process that we will pursuing to help you obtain your trademark.

We help you determine whether you need trademark, patent, or copyright protection. If you are going to be investing a large amount of money into marketing your product or service, trademark protection provides a rock solid means of preventing others from capitalizing on your investment.

Identify your mark format. While the number and variety of trademarks issued is enormous, most fall into one of three overall categories: a standard character mark, a stylized/design mark, or a sound mark. Identify clearly the precise goods and/or services to which the mark will apply. This is essential. Without clear identification to a product or service, your trademark will be literally worthless.