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In case you missed it, the Best F#@king News Team on TV reported on Linsanity last night. According to the surprisingly culturally significant Cheezburger Network’s website Know Your Meme, “#Linsanity is a Twitter hashtag used to describe excitement surrounding New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin following his breakout performance in mid-February 2012.” (Note – as of today, #Linsanity has not yet been officially confirmed as a meme, it is being researched by Know Your Meme’s editors.)
If USPTO applications have any bearing on memes, then perhaps this is telling . . . There have been 5 separate trademark registration applications filed for LINSANITY at the USPTO since February 7, 2012:
First up was Yenchin (Matthew) Chang who filed his LINSANITY application for numerous apparel items on February 7, 2012.
Next to shoot was Andrew Slayton who filed his LINSANITY application — also for apparel — on February 9, 2012.
In the middle of the pack is Mr. Linsanity himself — Jeremy Lin — who applied to register LINSANITY for bags, bottles, cups & mugs, action figures, sporting goods, sports drinks, and, of course, apparel on February 13, 2012.
Fourth comes Roger Montgomery, who applied to register LINSANITY for business management of sports people on February 14, 2012 (this has gotta be the Field of Dreams theory — if I name it after him, he will come).
Finally (at least so far), Yoonsoo Stephen Kim and Wesley Kwong-Yew Tang also applied to register LINSANITY on Valentine’s day, 2012, for jewelry (how romantic!).
So how’s this going to play out? First, as with the applications for BLUE IVY CARTER (discussed here and here), the PTO will fast track these applications due to their pop-culture significance. It has in fact already assigned Trademark Examiners to the first four applications (the first three were assigned to Steven Burk, while the fourth was assigned to Emily Chuo). Next, Chang, Slayton, Montgomery and Kim/Tang will all receive refusals to register because they don’t have Lin’s consent to register a mark that identifies him, while Lin’s application will be suspended until Chang and Slayton’s become abandoned (because they were filed before his). Fortunately, only Lin’s application was filed with the assistance of counsel, so no lawyers have explaining to do or refunds to issue. However, since USPTO filing fees are non-refundable, the other applicants each are out either $275 or $325 (depending on whether they used TEAS PLUS or TEAS) for their fleeting aspirations of retiring on the back of Jeremy Lin, which really would be Linsanity!
A ten minute phone call with a trademark attorney could have saved these eager applicants several hundred dollars. Any trademark that identifies someone cannot be federally registered without that person’s written consent.