Friday, April 17, 2009

Amber Alert Creator Files Pro Se $150 Million Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The Houston Press has an article today about a $150 million trademark infringement lawsuit filed pro se by Bruce Seybert – the Texas man who helped create the AMBER ALERT system (you can read his story on his website – against the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”) and its president, Ernie Allen. See Seybert v. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children et al., Case No. 09-cv-00169 (E.D. Tex. April 15, 2009)

According to the article (I have not seen the actual complaint), Seybert wants the NCMEC to stop using any references to Amber Alert. In essence, Seybert believes that NCMEC, the government's contractor running the nationwide Amber Alert program, by failing to set forth any state-by-state guidelines, is resulting in inconsistent application and use of the Amber Alert system, which in turn, Seybert believes, has cost some kids their lives who might have otherwise been saved by the program.

Seybert also has three other trademark lawsuits (each of which were also filed pro se) against three other parties pending in the same jurisdiction – all filed March 3, 2009. Seybert v. Woods, Seybert v. Amber Alert Safety Centers Inc et al, and Seybert v. et al. And while I have not read the complaints in any of those cases either, Seybert does provide a little insight into his perception of his trademark rights and the impetus for his trademark enforcement efforts on the Amber Alert trademark page of his website where he warns people and businesses using the Amber Alert mark that if they don’t stop using it, they will be receiving one of his lawsuits (excerpted at the bottom of the page). I will let Seybert’s website speaks for itself.

Of course, the more interesting issue is whether Seybert is even the correct party to be bringing such enforcement actions. After all, the U.S. Department of Justice owns U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3,507,207 for the AMBER ALERT design mark pictured above (registered September 30, 2008). Does Seybert have some kind of agreement with the DOJ which allows him to enforce the government's trademark rights? The complaints may provide some answers. However, if Seybert is not the owner of any intellectual property rights to AMBER ALERT, Seybert will soon get a good education about not only trademark law, but also Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

1 comment:

Bruce Seybert said...

The USDOJ, them self's never got permission nor did they buy the rights to the Amber Alert Concept or its inclusions and name,It is not public domain that is why in October 2008 they added a disclaimer to the web site. The USDOJ also has a claim and dispute filed with them over this and thus far is past there dead line to do so.
Bruce Seybert