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Central Mfg. v. George Brett

An interesting sports/trademark case. Leo Stoller, a well-known trademark squatter. Leo Stoller went out and registered a slew of trademarks containing common words — banking on the thought that eventually someone would want to use that mark. Essentially, he is a cybersquatter who doesn’t use domain names. His mark — STEALTH.

Leo Stoller is no stranger to trademark litigation. Indeed, one might say it is the essential part of his business strategy. In fact, were there a Hall of Fame for hyperactive trademark litigators, Stoller would be in it. And, like George Brett, he would have gotten in on the first ballot. Acting as a sort of intellectual property entrepreneur, Stoller has federally registered scores of trademarks with the U.S. PTO (Central lists upwards of 50 that are actual or pending for just the “Stealth” mark), many containing everyday words that regularly pop up in commercial enterprise. When other companies or individuals inevitably make use of these words, Stoller issues cease-and-desist letters in the hopes that the user will blanche at the prospect of litigation and either agree to pay him a “licensing fee” or yield to his claims of ownership and stop using the alleged mark altogether. “Essentially, if an entity markets a product with some version of the name ‘Stealth’ or otherwise with a ‘stealth’-like description, Plaintiff has elected to sue that entity.” S Industries, Inc. v. JL Audio, Inc., 29 F. Supp. 2d 878, 881 (N.D. Ill. 1998).

George Brett’s company marketed the STEALTH baseball bat — and Stoller came for him. The court not only found that Stoller’s claims were without merit, but awarded the defendant attorneys’ fees! Pretty rare in a trademark infringement case.

Link to the case.

Special thanks to Cary Wiggins of Cook Youngelson & Wiggins, and author of the blog, Meeting the Sin Laws for bringing this to my attention.


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