I don’t think I’m the only one who has dreams that someday something they make or do will be recognized and seen by millions of people around the world. I’m not talking about a Picasso painting or Beach Boys song here. Just some recognition. You know, like Rodney Dangerfield lamented about: “No respect, no respect whatsoever.”

What happens when you get too much respect? The kind of respect that takes the fruits of your creativity (or labor, whatever you want to call it) and runs off, leaving a trail of color and broken trust in its place? Well, if you are a major company and your possession is the product of some underground photographer you may breeze through the finish line faster than Apollo Ohno (there, I got my Winter Olympics reference in). Or your luck may run out and you face a public battle with a photographer who is tired of being exploited by the man.

PictureThe trademark train that almost left the station.
Let me just provide this disclaimer up front: this post is not going to be a shameless self-plug or soap box speech about how lawyers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Its not going to be entirely like that, I should say.

A few weeks ago, the New Jersey Transportation authority nearly found themselves in a pickle when they noticed that trademarks for important insignia were abandoned for good. Apparently, a trademark attorney that had been obtained by the transportation authority forgot to renew the trademark registrations before the deadline, requiring the transit authority to file new trademark applications for 7 of the transit authority’s marks. The cause for the lapse? It looks like a former attorney for the transit authority had a brain freeze and told the authority that its trademark registrations were actually good through 2018. The problem is that trademarks are only good for 10 years (with action required by the trademark at both the 5- and 10-year anniversaries of the registration), and the trademarks at issue were registered (mostly) around June 2002. Doing the math 2002 + 10 = 2012. So renewal of the marks was required in 2012, not 2018. Perhaps the lawyer for NJ Transit was confused by the effect of the 5-year renewal (which was filed timely in 2008) and believed that this filing extended the deadline 10 years. Who knows.