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Woof: The Prosecco People Successfully Oppose A Pet-Treat Company's 'Pawsecco' Trademark Application

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In the realm of the alcohol industry, the French champagne makers have distinguished themselves for their jealous protection of the name of their sparkling white wine. This protectionism is taken to the extreme, with association groups representing champagne makers essentially forbidding anyone else from even using the term. France's neighbor, Italy, has its own sparkling white wine called prosecco. And it seems that the makers of prosecco are trying to take a page from their champagne-making cousins in "protecting" their trademarks to a ridiculous degree.A maker of drinks for pets recently tried to trademark the name of a product it makes called "Pawsecco." The pet treat is not alcoholic, is sold only to pet owners, and is, frankly, puntastic. Despite all of this being supremely obvious, Woof and Brew faced a trademark opposition from the prosecco people.

‘Pawsecco’ was opposed by Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione di Origine Controllata Prosecco, the Italian organisation responsible for the protection and promotion of Prosecco’s PDO. The PDO relates to wines deriving from a particular vine species, within specific grape-growing areas in Italy. For a wine to qualify as Prosecco there are also unique bottling and labelling requirements. Consorzio said the applied-for mark would be confused with its earlier registered EU trademark (EUTM), which features the words ‘Prosecco PDO’ in a circle around the silhouette of glasses (EUTM number 11,619,764).
Okay, a couple of things here. First, the claims of potential confusion are clearly ridiculous. The products in question are not remotely similar, save for a tongue-in-cheek pun-based name Woof and Brew devised for its product. Even that pun is of the kind that clearly identifies the product differences and comes as part of a long-running tradition of pet stores punning known brands in selling their pet equivalents. Any clear reading of this opposition leaves the reader thinking that it is absolutely absurd.Second, is this really the best look for a trade group representing prosecco makers? After all, embedded in the opposition is that its products, billed as a classy, high-quality sparkling wine, could be confused with something pet owners feed to their dogs. Is that really the claim the consortium wants to make?Amazingly, despite all of this, Team Prosecco actually won its opposition. After admitting in its ruling that there is no chance for public confusion over any of this, the UK IPO then decided that the very allusion to prosecco warranted a refusal of the "Pawsecco" mark.
It agreed with Consorzio’s assertion that the ‘Pawsecco’ mark was “coined in order to allude to a type of wine”, though the IPO noted that “it is highly unlikely that pet owners would assume that the product was actually wine”.Overall, “the nature of the whole marketing strategy appears predicated upon an assumption that the potential consumer will see the evocation,” the IPO said, adding it is an “inevitable conclusion” that Woof and Brew saw “some form of commercial benefit in choosing (and using) the name that it did”. Woof and Brew is therefore “taking advantage of the strong reputation possessed by the PDO, riding on its coat-tails”, and to “tolerate such use would not promote fair competition”, the IPO concluded.
And so Woof and Brew doesn't get its trademark and has to pay the consortium nearly $3,000 for costs incurred in opposing the trademark. All for a trademark conflict that the IPO itself admits contains no risk for confusing the public consumer.And they say trademark laws are broken.

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posted at: 12:00am on 25-May-2018
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Report On Milwaukee PD Body Cams Show Fewer Complaints, Fewer Stops, But No Reduction In Use Of Force

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The Milwaukee PD is (or was) staring down the barrel of a DOJ consent decree for its unconstitutional policing (mainly stop-and-frisk) and routine deployment of excessive force. This is among the many concerns brought to light last year by the DOJ's draft report on the department.

The Milwaukee Police Department fails the community and its own officers by not communicating clearly, making too many traffic stops and applying inconsistent standards when disciplining officers, according to a draft of a federal report obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.The draft report offers a particularly damning critique of Chief Edward Flynn's reliance on data, a signature component of his strategy since he took over the department in 2008. Federal evaluators found this approach is having a damaging, if unintended, effect on police-community relations.“MPD’s attention to crime data has distracted the department from the primary tenet of modern policing: trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve,” the draft report states.
The DOJ also found officers had no idea what community policing entailed, suggesting it only applied to other officers officially designated as community liaisons. The DOJ highlighted the disconnection between the MPD's statements and actions on community policing using this depressing anecdote.
[T]he Milwaukee Police Department doesn’t have a strategic plan for community policing or a set of guidelines regarding it, the draft report says. And department-wide training on how to implement the strategy has not been offered in years.Federal evaluators highlighted one example of an attempt at community engagement that fell flat.Officers held a roll-call, or shift change, outside a Milwaukee school. The stated purpose was to let kids know officers wanted them to have a safe summer. The problem? There were no kids in sight, not even student leaders.The evaluators noted the event may even have sent the wrong message: That the students on summer break were a problem, and the police planned to deal with them.
This draft may never coalesce into an official report. AG Jeff Sessions' full-blooded support for law enforcement includes allowing them to be a law unto themselves by killing off DOJ investigations of misbehaving police forces. What's in the draft report is damning, but it will probably remain a draft in perpetuity.The PD's responsiveness to community unhappiness did at least result in one change: a pilot program equipping officers with body cameras. Unfortunately, the cameras appear to have done little to address one community complaint.
Milwaukee police officers with body cameras made fewer stops and were less likely receive a citizen complaint, a new study has found.But when it comes to use of force — the primary reason residents clamored for officers to use the cameras — it didn't matter if officers had the cameras or not. They used force at roughly the same rates.
The PD claims this report [PDF] vindicates officers and the department itself, at least in terms of accusations of excessive force deployment. According to the PD, the conclusions make it clear officers have applied force in accordance with policy. But that's stretching the findings a bit much. It could also mean the deterrent effect one assumes the cameras would have simply hasn't materialized. Officers may feel footage is at least as likely to clear them as damn them and are willing to roll the dice.And the dice come pre-loaded: officers are given weeks or months to make statements when accused of deploying excessive force. And while statements from witnesses are recorded, those made by officers are not, allowing them to retcon narratives if body cam footage refuses to align with the official narrative. The body cam footage may be a new twist, but the internal investigation process has been an issue for a long time. It, too, receives criticism in the DOJ's draft report.
When it comes to officer-involved shootings, the cases reviewed by the Justice Department were inconsistent and the documentation was inadequate.In both non-fatal shootings and other uses of force, information about officers’ training, prior use of force, complaints and discipline were not included in internal affairs files.That information also does not seem to have an effect on whether officers are promoted.
One number that did drop in the wake of camera deployment is street stops. Officers wearing cameras performed far fewer stops than officers without them. This suggests the stop-and-frisk program the PD is currently being sued over tends to make the Constitution an afterthought. Documentation of unconstitutional stops isn't going to help the PD emerge victorious in this lawsuit and the simplest solution is to leave those stops to officers without cameras.It's not all negative, however. As noted above, officers with cameras received 50% fewer complaints, suggesting the presence of another "witness" causes both parties to treat each other with a little more respect. Camera use can result in de-escalation, which is something rarely willfully practiced by officers.But we can't read too much into that either. The drop in complaints is tracked by a drop in stops, which may suggest the cameras aren't "civilizing" interactions so much as fewer of them are taking place.Body cams are band-aids, at best. They can never be a panacea, but they're far from useless. Things do change when law enforcement operates under additional scrutiny. But they don't change as quickly or dramatically as proponents of cameras hope they will. A seismic cultural shift is needed in most departments and body cameras will only incrementally increase the speed in which bad apples are expunged from the barrel. But the barrel will still be filled with slightly-less-rotten apples. That being said, cameras should be a requirement as should the presumption that missing footage weighs against a cop's statements. Just because they're not working as well as many of us thought they would doesn't mean it's without its merits.

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posted at: 12:00am on 25-May-2018
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Chicago Wins 'Most Corrupt City' Award Due In No Small Part To Its Awful Redlight Camera System

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We've talked a great deal about my home city of Chicago, largely for the myriad of awful, corrupt practices it has put in place around topics that we cover here. For instance, we have an alderman trying to shore up the city budget by taxing the shit out of Uber and Lyft, our Mayor thought it was a great idea to have his own private email accounts to conduct business, and a red light camera system so hilariously geared towards bilking money from citizens that the courts have tossed out huge swaths of the tickets it generated, which led the city to decide to make it barely less corrupt by a measure of tenths-of-seconds worth of leeway for drivers crossing the intersection.Now, you might be thinking that all of this effort to be corrupt and insidious seems like a waste. Wouldn't it be far easier, you might be thinking, to simply run the city in a sensible way? Wouldn't that actually require less effort and be better for the people of Chicago? Perhaps, but then Chicago wouldn't have received the prestigious award of "most corrupt city", as it did this past week.

A report released Tuesday ranks Chicago as the most corrupt city in the country and Illinois as the third-most corrupt state."What we find is a very dreary picture. In nearly every sector, whether you talk about aldermen, you talk about Chicago schools, you talk about contracts, in every area corruption is still rife in the city of Chicago," said Dick Simpson, lead author of the "Continuing Corruption in Illinois" study and a University of Illinois Chicago political science professor.
We did it! Suck it, every city in New Jersey! My hometown is the corruptest place in the land. And, as the UIC report notes, Chicago won this much sought after award in no small part to the very red light camera system we mentioned above.
Chicago's red light camera scandal sent an assistant transportation department commission to prison for bribery and extortion."What that means is that it's harder to get businesses to come here because of its corrupt state, we're losing population and corruption is one of the reasons we're losing population. We have undermined faith in government," Simpson said.
Asked to comment on the UIC report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded by noting how awesome a job he's done at not being corrupt, despite that not being the framing of the question at all. But that's the kind of response you can expect from Rahm, who has overseen the most corrupt city's government for more than seven years now. It has been under his watch that the camera system has flourished into the corruption monster it now is, not to mention it being under his watch that the Chicago Police Department has become the butt of a national joke.So pop the champagne, fellow Chicago residents. It took a lot of hard work and effort, but we made it!

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posted at: 12:00am on 23-May-2018
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Copyright Being Used To Prevent Actress From Showing Her Own Demo Reel

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Lawyer Stephen Doniger seems to be going out of his way to file lawsuits that involve creative interpretations of copyright (and by "creative" I mean "wrong.") You may recall that Doniger was the lawyer behind Playboy suing Boing Boing for copyright infringement for linking to an Imgur collection of Playboy centerfolds. That case went so poorly that the judge tossed it out in just two months. Before that, Doniger made a name for himself (I kid you not) being a fabric copyright troll, filing loads of lawsuits against companies offering similar designs on fabric. He's also jumped in on the whole situation created by the "Blurred Lines" mess by filing a bunch of "sounds alike" copyright cases.It's almost as if he's filing all sorts of nutty copyright cases just to demonstrate for us just how ridiculous modern copyright law has become, and how far from its purpose it has strayed. Indeed, that's about the only explanation I can find for a new filing by Doniger, as noted by the Hollywood Reporter, in which Doniger, representing director Robin Bain is suing actress Jessica Haid for using a clip of the film, Nowhereland in her own demo reel.In short, Bain claims that Haid asked for permission to use clips in her demo reel and Bain refused (nice of him). She then got a copy of the film and gave it to another company to include it in her demo reel. Bain is now suing, claiming it's an "unauthorized derivative work." Indeed, the lawsuit claims that the clips in the demo reel "included a significant amount of unreleased footage from The Film, which taken together, encompassed the heart of The Film, as well as revealed the ending to The Film."The claim that this uses "the heart" of the work is an attempt to get around a fair use claim and a reference to the famed Harper Row v. Nation Enterprises case. Looking over the fair use factors, it seems hard to see how this isn't fair use. It's clearly transformative. The use is quite different than the movie itself -- it's a small clip used to advertise the actress, not to show the film. Despite the claims of this being "the heart" of the film, it's still just clips for a demo reel, rather than the full film. And, finally the impact on the market is going to be nil. Or, if anything, it might encourage people to see the full film (unless the film sucks, of course).Either way, I can't imagine that this is what the framers of the Constitution imagined when they were putting in place the copyright clause. How the hell does it "promote the progress of science" to have a director sue an actress for advertising her acting ability? But, as yet another example of just how ridiculous copyright law is these days, it works perfectly. So thanks Stephen Doniger for adding to the list of examples of ridiculous copyright lawsuits.



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posted at: 12:00am on 23-May-2018
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