Monday, February 2, 2009

One Former Las Vegas Businessman is a Trademark “Virgin” No More

A former Las Vegas businessman got a lesson in trademark law and found out the hard way how seriously some large companies take their trademarks.

This last Saturday, the Las Vegas Review Journal had an article (link here) about a lawsuit filed by Virgin Enterprises, Ltd. (“Virgin”), the owner of numerous trademark registrations for the mark VIRGIN, against Paul Johnson, the owner of Virgin Properties – a company specializing in acquiring and development of previously untouched property (i.e., “virgin” property). [Note: I was unable to find the lawsuit listed on].

Benjamin Spillman, the reporter who wrote the story, interviewed me about the lawsuit and included a few of my quotes.

As most lawyers in the trademark world already know, Virgin is well known for trying to stop any other businesses from using the word “Virgin” in connection with any other goods and services (regardless of whether Virgin actually holds any trademark rights to the mark VIRGIN in connection with an alleged infringers goods and services – and thus apparently having to rely on a dilution type of argument occasionally where the traditional likelihood of confusion might fail). Click here for a listing of other trademark applicants who were challenged by Virgin in their attempt to register some mark with the word VIRGIN in it.

And thus, the reason why this man using the term VIRGIN in connection with the descriptive term PROPERTIES incurred the wrath of Virgin.

Of course, one wonders if Johnson had instead chosen to use “virgin properties” in a more obviously descriptive sense (e.g., “Paul Johnson – Selling Virgin Properties Exclusively Since 2000”), would Virgin still have gone after him?

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