Cyberlawer Wants "Cyberlaw" All to Himself
Eric Menhart is a lawyer who heads Cyberlaw, which holds itself out as a "recognized leader" in matters such as domain name disputes, copyright and trademark. But apparently, Menhart's work isn't as highly regarded by other Internet experts, who have lambasted him for trying to trademark the now genericized term, "Cyberlaw."
As discussed in this post by Santa Clara law professor Eric Goldman, Menhart has filed a federal trademark application (application 77341910) on the term "CyberLaw." From Goldman's post:
Menhart claims a priority date of Feb. 22, 2007. Mysteriously, his website displays the circle-R next to the term "CyberLaw" even though it's only a pending application (the application was just filed Dec. 1, 2007). Fortunately, I'm 100% confident that the TM Office will reject this application because the term "Cyberlaw" has become a generic description for the law of the Internet and related fields--see the Wikipedia entry on the topic.
Still, despite the unlikelihood of obtaining a trademark, Menhart has asserted his "perceived rights" against others, such as Michael Grossman, a Chicago attorney who writes the blog, Cyberblawg (note: the link is no longer available). Goldman also questions Menhart's expertise in cyberlaw, asking "What kind of Cyberlawyer doesn't know that the term "Cyberlaw" isn't trademarkable for Cyberlaw services, *especially* not by one who claims a priority date of 2007?"
Other blogs have addressed the issue as well. The Electronic Freedom Foundation is equally critical, asserting that "Eric Menhart may call himself a cyberlawyer, but we think he has a lot of learn about cyberlaw -- and common sense." One enterprising commenter at Slashdot engaged in some undercover work on Menhart and came up with this unflattering information.
One thing that a "cyberlawyer" needs to evaluate, more than the legal issues governing trademark and copyright, is whether seeking to obtain or enforce a trademark, particularly in a marginal case, is worth the potential negative publicity. (See previous posts here and here). I have to wonder how Menhart could ever capably represent the interest of his clients and protect their reputation and business interests when apparently, he can't even do so for himself.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 23, 2008 at 04:16 PM | Permalink
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