A client sells high-quality collectibles manufactured from authentic sports-related materials (game-used balls, uniforms, arena flooring, stadium seats, etc.). The company ensures that all materials are licensed by the applicable university or professional sports organizations so it can use the organizations’ names and trademarks in promotional activities. Some competitors do not pay for the required licenses, however – and one of these recently was caught as the result of a Groupon promotion.
A friend of the client’s CEO received a Groupon promotion offering a huge discount on items that, the friend knew, competed with those offered by my client. At the client’s request, I contacted the licensing organization’s in-house lawyer to let him know that the competitor was using trademarks (apparently) without a license to do so.
I was pleasantly surprised, and somewhat amazed, when the lawyer immediately replied that he was already working on a cease-and-desist letter. The reason: Over the same weekend, he had received an e-mail for the same Groupon promotion!
Moral: It’s inappropriate to use others’ trademarks without required licenses, and it’s dangerous to advertise such use on a website, but it’s foolish, at best, to promote such use via social media.
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
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