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By now, everyone and their tiger mom has heard of Jeremy Lin, the Harvard-educated basketball sensation. My understanding is that the new version of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will include Linsanity as a medically-treatable condition. Before we all run out and get vaccinated, let’s consider the trademark issues. I promise to do my very best to avoid all of the various “Lin” puns.

Five different people have filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office to register the term LINSANITY:

Yenchin Chang, on February 7, 2012, for a variety of apparel that’s too long to list here.

Andrew Slayton, on February 9, 2012, for “Athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms.

Wesley Tang, on February 14, 2012, for “Jewelry, namely, bracelets, wristbands and necklaces that also provides notification to the wearer of a pending medical related task; Rubber or silicon wristbands in the nature of a bracelet.”

Roger Montgomery, also on February 14, 2012, for “Business management of sports people.” Sports people?

And, of course, Jeremy Lin himself, on February 13, 2012, for five different classes of products.

My guess is that the USPTO will dispatch with Chang, Slayton, Tang, and Montgomery like Jeremy Lin himself going through…I don’t know, pick a bad basketball team, I don’t watch the NBA and I’m actually much more excited about baseball’s spring training. This is the Padres’ year, I promise.

Getting back to reality, how will Lin be able to prevail over those other four characters? My faithful readers will recall that back in October, I wrote about a third party’s attempt to register LADY GAGA as a trademark. One of the grounds on which the USPTO can bar trademark registration for a personal name is:

False Suggestion of a Connection

If the proposed trademark attempts to make a connection with a person, living or dead, it will not be registrable if the connection is fabricated. Usually this factor comes into play with someone famous. If the mark to be registered is the name of a famous person, the public may believe the product or service has been endorsed by the famous person. If consumers are likely to be confused that the product or service is associated with the named person, the trademark application will be denied.

While Jeremy’s last name is not actually “Linsanity,” it’s clear that the term is an attempt to create a connection with Lin in the eyes of the consumer. The term “Linsanity” did not exist until recently, and everyone who cares about basketball knows who it’s referring to. Trying to capitalize on someone else’s fame is not only in bad taste, but at least on the verge of bad faith. I don’t think Lin has much to worry about, and it’ll be interesting to see if the USPTO moves more quickly than usual given all the publicity this issue has received.

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