Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nails on a Chalkboard!

The New Yorker ordinarily has interesting articles in long-format which are usually factually correct. However, lately, I have to question the accuracy of some of their information.


One problem with being an Attorney is that you are trained to speak precisely - and the imprecise language of ordinary folks tends to drive you nuts. Dangling modifiers, for example, annoy me. And as Patent Attorney, it is worse, as people tend to spout off all sorts of nonsense about Patents - and not even get the basic facts right.

And some certain phrases are like nails on a chalkboard to an IP Attorney. "I trademarked my invention," or "I copyrighted my company name," for example. They are as annoying as "I Xeroxed a document".

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, this boner jumped out at me:

"When he comes to Las Vegas himself, he is Farmer Lee, and wears a uniform he as trademarked with the U.S. Attorney General's office...." (August 16&23, 2010 issue, page 45, col. 1, lines 11-12, emphasis added)
Nice try, New Yorker. How about the Patent & Trademark Office? The "U.S. Attorney General's Office" does not grant Trademarks. Seems kind of simple. The USPTO even has the word "Trademark" in its name. How hard is that?

The rest of the article was pretty much bullshit as well. It was a 10-page fluff piece about some dude who buys gourmet food for Vegas restaurants. Unsubstantiated facts, rumors, and that sort of thing, plus a "Gee-Whiz, those people in Vegas sure do eats them fancy foods" kind of deal. It was an unabashed promotion of Las Vegas, frankly, and disappointing for the New Yorker. Perfect for People magazine, if you trimmed it down to a page or so.

A 30-second search of the USPTO database (even a newbie can use it!) reveals the following, when searching under "Farmer Lee":

Mark Image
Word Mark FARMER LEE JONES
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: On-line ordering services featuring fresh vegetables, fruits, plants, herbs and edible flowers; Retail services by direct solicitation by sales agents in the field of fresh vegetables, fruits, plants, herbs and edible flowers; Retail stores featuring fresh vegetables, fruits, plants, herbs and edible flowers
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 77034979
Filing Date November 2, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition July 10, 2007
Owner (APPLICANT) The Chef's Garden, Inc. CORPORATION OHIO 9009 Huron-Avery Road Huron OHIO 44839
Attorney of Record Jeffrey C. Norris
Prior Registrations 2798381;3042576
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Other Data "The name(s), portrait(s), and/or signature(s) shown in the mark identifies Lee Jones , whose consent(s) to register is submitted."
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date April 3, 2008


From that dead mark, searching by owner name (Chef's Garden) we get a host of Marks:

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Check Status Live/Dead
1 78565312
VEGGIE PICKS TARR DEAD
2 78906600 3522672 FARMER JONES TARR LIVE
3 78684288 3277095 ICE BEETS TARR LIVE
4 78684285 3277094 ICE CARROTS TARR LIVE
5 78534537 3050053 ICE VEGETABLES TARR LIVE
6 78504178 3040881 TASTY T'AISINS TARR LIVE
7 78906594
GOURMET FIELDS FOREVER TARR DEAD
8 78180429 2808602 SALAD SENSATION TARR LIVE
9 78130268 2763013 THE CULINARY VEGETABLE INSTITUTE TARR LIVE
10 78152226 2837309 VEGGIE U TARR LIVE
11 78129557 2740422 DEMITOPS TARR LIVE
12 78442331 3062313 THE CHEF'S GARDEN TARR LIVE
13 78369126 3074451 MAJENTA LACE TARR LIVE
14 78343041 2939890 ICE SPINACH TARR LIVE
15 78330939 3042576
TARR LIVE
16 78299907 2878074 CARMELLINI TARR LIVE
17 78284416 2897301
TARR LIVE
18 78302262
BEET BLUSH TARR DEAD
19 78283807
UMAMI TARR DEAD
20 77410136
FOSSIL FREE CUISINE TARR LIVE
21 77286151
BEET BLUSH TARR DEAD
22 77091353 3521312 AMUSE BOUCHE COLLECTION TARR LIVE
23 77091344 3521311 TRILOGY COLLECTION TARR LIVE
24 77091184
AGTOG TARR DEAD
25 77034979
FARMER LEE JONES TARR DEAD
26 77034961 3612872 EARTH TO TABLE TARR LIVE
27 76224467 2798381 FARMER JONES FARMS TARR LIVE
28 76215041 2665504 MICROGREENS TARR DEAD
29 76224587 2591150 GROWING VEGETABLES SLOWLY AND GENTLY, IN FULL ACCORD WITH NATURE TARR LIVE
30 76224585 2578065 THE CHEF AND FARMER CONCEPT TARR LIVE
31 76224464 2620342 THE CHEF'S KITCHEN GARDEN TARR LIVE
32 76215012 2591120 SALAD SENSATION TARR LIVE
33 76214862 2571195
TARR LIVE
34 76224586
CULINARY VEGETABLE INSTITUTE TA


Searching through this list (looking for IMAGE marks, which don't have a name in the mark column) finds this:

Mark Image
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Retail store services, telephone order retail services, on-line retail store services, and retail services by direct solicitation by sales agents in the field of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible plants. FIRST USE: 20051107. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20051107
Mark Drawing Code (2) DESIGN ONLY
Design Search Code 02.01.18 - Farmers (men); Hobos (men); Men, farmers, hobos and other men wearing overalls; Overalls (men wearing)
02.01.31 - Men, stylized, including men depicted in caricature form
02.11.06 - Beards; Hair; Hair extensions; Human hair, locks of hair, wigs, beards, mustaches; Mustaches; Toupees; Wigs
09.03.02 - Coveralls; Exercise clothes, shorts; Gym shorts; Jeans; Knickers; Overalls; Overalls; Pants; Shorts; Slacks; Sweatpants; Trousers
09.03.15 - Bow ties; Neckties; Ties, neckties or bow ties
09.05.01 - Caps, including visors, military caps and baseball caps
Serial Number 78330939
Filing Date November 20, 2003
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition October 26, 2004
Registration Number 3042576
Registration Date January 10, 2006
Owner (REGISTRANT) The Chef's Garden, Inc. CORPORATION OHIO 9009 Huron-Avery Road Huron OHIO 44839
Attorney of Record Jeffrey C. Norris
Prior Registrations 2571195
Description of Mark The mark consists of a picture of a farmer wearing overalls, a bow-tie, and a cap.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Other Data The name(s), portrait(s), and/or signature(s) shown in the mark identifies Lee Jones , whose consent(s) to register is submitted.
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

So yes, he has a Trademark on his image, including the outfit (and his face). But no, the USAG does not issue Trademarks. (And no, the mark is not for the outfit per se, but for the image shown above).

Total Search Time: 1 minute.

Do I have to start reading the Atlantic Monthly now or something?

What makes the crime worse was that the New Yorker ran an article a few years back about how great their fact-checking department is. They detailed how every statement in an article is run down and checked and sources found - even innocuous statements that would seem to be self-evident. Of course, that article was about how the fact-checking department worked, "back in the day".

Perhaps in the interim, Conde Nasty has laid off all the fact-checkers to save money. To miss something as simple as which government agency issues Trademarks, well, that seems like a no-brainer.

Perhaps the New Yorker is going the way of Time Magazine?

Perhaps. It illustrates how much of our media and information these days is sloppy and poorly prepared. Television long ago ditched factual reporting in favor of celebrity news and talking heads. Allegations and "controversies" are now the order of the day. Factual analysis is too expensive and frankly, the ratings are too low.

So fluff pieces and showy articles that generate interest are promoted, as that is what sells. It is just sad that that sort of thing has trickled down to the New Yorker.

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