Great moments in trademark trolling

kramer_vs_kramer.jpgWith Nuvio suing Garmin’s Nuviphone on fairly spurious grounds, let’s take a look at famous trademark wars of times past.

Apple v. Apple — Say you want a revolution? How about a mouthful of lawsuit! In 1978, Apple Corp (owned by the Beatles) filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the nascent Apple Computer. They settled the suit in 1981 for $80,000 (!!) as long as Apple Computer didn’t sell music. Fast forward to 1986 and then 1991 when Apple started adding music playback hardware to its machines, which further infringed on Apple Corps business of “music making.” In 1991 a $26.5 million settlement was reached and then, guess what? Apple Corps sued again for iTunes, suggesting that Apple Computer now sold music, just like Apple Corps would do if George and John weren’t dead, Paul wasn’t a ponce, and Ringo wasn’t doing the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine. A judge ruled in favor of Apple Computer in 2006 and it seems that the Beatles catalog, which no one in the entire world has right now, might soon be available on iTunes. Bang bang the judge’s silver gavel, indeed.

Cisco v. Apple — Cisco’s iPhone line, which mind-freaked a load of people last year is basically a VoIP solution for business. Apple’s iPhone is a really cool phone with magical powers. But guess who came to the party first? Cisco, back in 2000. They filed a lawsuit last January and came to an agreement a bit later with undisclosed terms.

MikeRoweSoft v. Microsoft — In 2003, Mike Rowe, a CS student, registered MikeRoweSoft as a personal repository for his work. Microsoft asked him to take it down and once he refused, Microsoft offered $10 for his out of pocket expenses. That didn’t work. So they sent him a 25-page cease and desist letter. As we all know, cease and desist letters work extremely well on the Internet and when he went public, it looked like Microsoft had been killing puppies. Mike eventually settled for an XBox and some Windows training and Bill Gates’ lawyers returned to their mountain lair where they still suckle on the tears of newborns. v. — Not sure if you remember Hulu it it was sued by Lulu. Lulu lets you print and sell your own books. Hulu is a site that shows video from Fox. You decide if Lulu = Hulu in your spare time. I’m not giving this any more brain cycles.

mary.jpgMariah Carey v. Mary Carey — Now this is a case we can sink our teeth into. I’m not really good at lawyerese but chanteuse Mariah Carey sued panteuse Mary Carey [NSFW] for “doing business” under similar sounding name. See, Mariah sings songs while Mary is a porn star. It’s easy to get the two confused. The suit seems to be ongoing since 2006 but I suspect the lawyers were running into the problem of being interested in the case for about 10 minutes, then getting bored for about twenty, then getting interested again for about 30 minutes.