Sheen Madness

Posted by | April 07, 2011 | General | No Comments

Charlie Sheen has received great notoriety of late for acting poorly.  As a result, Warner Brothers fired Sheen and canceled Two and a Half Men two shows prior to the end of this season, as well as for all of next.  Due to its falling out with Sheen, Warner Brothers demanded that Sheen submit to arbitration before JAMS for breach of contract.  Sheen’s response, of course, was to file suit against Warner Brothers.

Meanwhile, pirates abound!

On March 22, I wrote about UnFollow Charlie, which I remain convinced is a good idea.  In that post, I examined some of the US federal trademark registration applications filed by third parties for Charlie Sheen’s catchphrases.  These included four for WINNING, ten for TIGER BLOOD, and two for ADONIS DNA.

Perhaps concerned about mounting legal bills and a potentially large damages award against him, on March 18, 2011 Sheen formed a corporation named HYRO-GLIFF, which filed twenty four trademark registration applications for Sheen’s catch phrases between March 19, and March 22, 2011.  AmLaw reported today that the actor is “aggressively moving to cash in on his newfound notoriety” (again, I wonder how much cash will be left over once Warner Brothers and the lawyers get paid).

Sheen’s applications only recently appeared on the publicly available PTO TESS database, which is why I did not address them in my March 22 post (welcome to my world, where the PTO-lag always keeps things interesting!).

All of the registration applications filed by Sheen’s company were filed under Section 1(b) Intent to Use (ITU).  This does not necessarily mean that Sheen has not used the marks in interstate commerce, although Intent to Use applications most commonly are filed when the applicant has not yet put the mark into use in interstate commerce.  However, an ITU application also might be filed when the applicant doesn’t have evidence of use of its mark that the PTO would deem suitable, or when an applicant is engaged in a trademark dispute and does not want to publicly commit to a first use date, since being first is all important.

That said, all twenty four of Sheen’s applications were filed in one International Class each (either Class 009 or Class 035), for a laundry list of goods and services that fall into several other (if not all other) International Classes.  None of the applications, including those that contain all or some of Sheen’s name, include a Name Portrait Consent.  Given the obvious, presumably intentional, omissions in Sheen’s applications, it will be interesting to see where these go.

In addition to cleaning up his own applications, Sheen will also have to contend with the prior applications filed by others for his catchphrases.  Since the PTO grants trademark applications on a first-to-file basis (Opposition proceedings not withstanding), Sheen will have to knock-out any prior pending applications that are too similar to his own, or negotiate consent agreement resolutions with those applicants before he can get his marks registered.

File early!  Being reactive almost always costs more than being proactive.  While Charlie may be sorry to have waited to file some of his trademark applications, as the folks at MythBusters have proven, everything can have a sheen.

About Lara

Lara Pearson is a trademark attorney with Exemplar, where she also serves as the firm's Sustainability Steward. Lara's legal practice focuses on trademark and copyright law, including: intellectual property audits; trademark search & clearance; trademark and copyright registration & maintenance; intellectual property transfers; transactional work; and dispute resolution, including litigation when necessary. Lara primarily represents other social enterprises -- those leveraging their businesses and brands as catalysts for positive social and environmental change. Such businesses engage in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) to have a positive "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit. As Exemplar's Sustainability Steward, Lara works with others in her law firm to measure and reduce the firm's carbon emissions and encourage engagement in social responsibility initiatives, including pro bono legal work and volunteering. Lara is a proud member of the Social Venture Network. Brand Geek is a member of 1% for the Planet and a Certified B Corporation, whose Incline Village office is certified under the regional Keep the Sierra Green program. Exemplar Companies is the most innovative professional services firm in the New Economy. Our unique, diversified expertise spans the disciplines of corporate law, business advisory, and capital/investment banking to better meet the needs of our high-potential customers. We have assembled a comprehensive suite of service to meet the complex issues facing companies in today’s challenging business environment. Our unique, holistic approach ensures the growth and success – and greatly increases the competitive advantage - of our customers. The Exemplar team is comprised of knowledgeable, highly skilled experts in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They work closely with our customers to provide trusted advice, incomparable support, expert guidance and the ultimate competitive advantage as they accelerate their businesses and position themselves to transform industries.

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