Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

September 2017 Archives

Velcro's marketing department scored a huge victory this week, as their heavily bleeped music video featuring actual in-house attorneys imploring consumers to say "hook and loop" rather than "Velcro" went viral. If not, these company lawyers explain, Velcro may "lose our circle R," or trademark on their own company name.

Known in intellectual property law circles as "genericide," a trademark can be deemed to be abandoned if the mark becomes the generic name for the goods or services on or in connection with which it is used. While that fate has befallen brands like Hoover, Jacuzzi, and Frisbee, Velcro is hoping to avoid being the next victim. But is it really up to consumers to protect a company's trademark?

At first glance, a judge saying the iconic Civil Rights anthem 'We Shall Overcome' has the same copyright protection as the iconic birthday anthem 'Happy Birthday' (which is to say, none) doesn't seem that odd. After all, both songs are older than any living person, come from indefinite origins, and are sung so ubiquitously that paying royalties every time a line is uttered seems absurd.

And yet, none of those reasons for denying copyright protections is a legal one, and the path to the public domain for the former song was a bit different than that for the latter.

Courts and the law have long held sympathy for a man who finds his wife or girlfriend cheating on him. There were once exceptions to murder statutes and lesser penalties for a man who discovered his wife "in flagrante delicto" and lashed out violently. While those laws have either been formally removed or are no frowned upon by courts, some states still allow a jilted husband to sue a home-wrecking party.

One such lawsuit was recently revived in North Carolina, where a man is suing a doctor for an affair with his nurse wife.

Some lawsuits you just shouldn't read about until after lunch. The In-N-Out burger trademark infringement case against Smashburger is one such lawsuit, as the juicy details are bound to make burger lovers salivate.

In short, In-N-Out alleges that Smashburger violated their trademark on the phrase "Double Double" which is used to describe one of the few menu selections offered at the burger chain. The allegations rest upon Smashburger's recent menu addition from this past summer, the "Triple Double."

Reddit's Legal Advice section is a treasure trove of tragedy, comedy, and legitimate legal head-scratchers. Among inquiries like "Does 'Educational Purposes' exempt you from crimes" and "There are police officers in my city who sit in a parking lot looking for people speeding ... Is this legal," was this gem: "If I lose a limb in a car accident do I still own the limb?"

We know there are rules about the treatment and disposal of corpses, but what if you lose a limb in a car accident, or need to have a body part removed in surgery? Is it yours? Can you take it home? Can you have it preserved, hire a company to clean and arrange the skeleton, and then scratch your cat's cute widdle face with it?