Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

October 2010 Archives

NY Treehouse Granted Landmark Status After Legal Fight

New York landmarks: rightfully famous, visited, beloved. However, there is one freshly minted "landmark" in NYC that may never challenge Lady Liberty or even the Naked Cowboy for iconic status, except in the hearts of three underage city dwellers. They are the 11, 13 and 16-year-old daughters of Melinda Hackett, and the landmark here is their backyard treehouse.

Yes, like many other aspects of big city living, the treehouse was the result of a daily fight, not just with the neighbors, but with the permitting office and the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, among others, reports the Associated Press. Not only did Melinda Hackett have to build the treehouse with her bare hands (o.k. some carpenters built it and they used tools) but she had to fight tooth and nail to get to keep her daughters' "little treehouse that could." That part is actually true.

Naked Cowboy Ticketed for Shirtless in Public

Naked Cowboy, Legal Grounds has missed you. The trademark dispute between you and Naked Cowgirl was a watershed and you have been pretty quiet since then. True, there was that report of your potential run for president, but since you had to put a shirt on for that event, we didn't count it. Now we are back in the full glory of Naked legal incidents. This time, it was a ticket for being shirtless.

It seems that the Naked Cowboy should stick to Manhattan (Times Square is his area of choice) because every time he ventures outside of NYC, something happens. This time, the Naked One, also known to law enforcement as Robert Burck, was hired to play at an oyster festival in Port Jefferson, New York, according to the Despite the many fans who were taking pictures with the E-list celebrity, complaints were made to town officials about the Cowboy being shirtless (and pantsless) in public.

Suspect Arrested for Dog Bite, His

Dog bites man is the natural order of things. But when you are a police dog, the natural order may not always apply. Please sit back and read with me the unnatural tale (and tail) of Onyx, brave police dog, and one unnaturally rough day. Our story begins on patrol in West Haven, Connecticut, in the early morning hours of October 7...

According to the report by the New Haven Register, Officer Scott Bloom was on patrol with fellow K-9 officer Onyx at about 2:30 a.m. when he spotted a man acting strangely, weaving off the sidewalk, with his pants falling to the ground. A bad omen: Bloom recognized the man from previous "contact" as Roderick Lewis. Lewis must not have recognized Bloom, because he allegedly yelled to him "I need a bag of dust." If Lewis had recognized the police officer, he would have surely been the last person to whom he would have yelled his request for a bag of "angel dust," also known as the hallucinogen PCP.

D.C. Internet Voting System Chewed by Hackers

The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics is going to really regret quoting '80s rocker Pat Benatar, and not for just the obvious reasons. Asking the public to hit the District's brand new internet based voting system, "digital vote by mail," with their best shot turned out to be a touch premature. The best shot was fired, and the system when up in flames.

The system was opened up for a week-long testing period, according to The Washington Post. Experts were invited by the Board to challenge the internet voting system and attempt to find its vulnerabilities. Did they ever. A University of Michigan Prof who had been consulting with the D.C. Board on the system decided to "unleash" his Wolverines on the test and they pretty much tore it up. After the Michigan students hit the system, when an unsuspecting citizen cast their vote, they would be greeted by the U Mich fight song, blaring from the site. Hail To the Victors, is right.

Chippendales Cuffs and Collar Denied Trademark Protection

It seems we have a double standard operating in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but maybe not in the way one might think. The USPTO in all its wisdom, has granted trademark protection to everyone's favorite repeat offender, Paris Hilton and her customized phrase, "That's hot." So simple, and yet speaking volumes about ... everything. And yet, despite the genericity of that phrase, (new way to use that word, do you think it is worthy of a TM?), the USPTO went ahead and trademarked it. However, they have declined to assist fellow hotties the Chippendales dancers in their quest to have their ubiquitous "cuffs and collar" costume trademarked.

As Reuters has reported, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the denial of trademark to Chippendales by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The original trademark application was made in 2000, and claimed that the cuffs and collar were distinctive enough to merit the protection. The court disagreed.