It’s Masters week, one of the most exciting weeks of the year for golfers, avid and amateur alike. Questions abound, including: (1) what will it be like without Arnold Palmer since he passed away last September; (2) who will win the first major of the year and don the coveted Green Jacket; (3) could Danny Willett repeat or will Dustin Johnson continue to roll; and (4) who will emerge victorious from the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals?
While golf fans will watch for answers to these questions, the Masters also serves as a reminder of all the Intellectual Property questions inherent in the game of golf. So, whatever your handicap, here is a list of 5 IP questions and thoughts to ponder related to the same.
- Is Arnold Palmer generic for the iced drink that includes lemonade and iced tea?
Arnold Palmer Enterprises, Inc. owns a trademark registration, albeit in stylized form, for ARNOLD PALMER. However, the question becomes whether it has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, the general class of product, albeit against the intentions of Arnold Palmer’s entity. A Wikipedia page dedicated to the drink along with what assuredly will be countless orders for it this week alone would make for an interesting debate, if not dispute. The same could be said for its boozy brethren, the John Daly.
- Is use of anything “Masters” off limits?
Augusta National, Inc. owns countless trademarks, including AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB, MASTERS TOURNAMENT, AMEN CORNER, GREEN JACKET and others in connections with various goods and services. They have recently filed a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for A TRADITION LIKE ANY OTHER (I can hear Jim Nantz say it as I write it). The entity has been active in its claim of rights and enforcement efforts, including a dispute over the domain name <masters.com>, which it now owns and uses as its primary website. While the doctrine of fair use, both traditional and nominal fair use, may apply, one would be well served knowing what could be considered in the fairway or out of bounds when it comes to use of the claimed IP.
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