Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Cleveland Indians and the "Baseball Rule"

While attending a baseball game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field in July 2012, Keith Rawlins and his daughter were cheering for the Indians from seats along the third base line. During the top of the ninth inning, Rawlins was allegedly pressured by ushers to vacate his seat in preparation for a post-game fireworks display. As he left, he was struck by a foul ball, which blinded him in one eye and ended his career as a tool and die maker.  Can Rawlins recover for his injuries?

In most cases, fans injured during a baseball game cannot recover from the team. The well-established “baseball rule” states that fans assume the risks of attending a game, particularly the risk of being struck by a foul ball. A team cannot generally be held liable for injuries occurring during the normal course of a game - unless its actions increased the inherent risk of attending a game.

Earlier this month, the Eighth District Court of Appeals considered that very question in Rawlins v. Cleveland Indians Baseball Co., Inc. In its decision, the appeals court found that questions of fact remained as to if Indians employees increased the risk to Rawlins. The court remanded the case to the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas for a determination of whether ushers did ask Rawlins to vacate his seat and if so, whether those actions increased the inherent risk of the game.

For more, read the Cleveland Plain Dealer summary or the complete opinion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Protecting Your Trademark Overseas

A federal trademark registration with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is limited to protection within the United States. Outside of the country, similar marks are not automatically preempted without an additional filing (and even if they are, may be burdensome to enforce). You might be surprised to stumble across, for example, an Applebee’s restaurant near Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London or an Old Navy cafĂ© not far from Paris’s Luxembourg Gardens.

However, registering your trademark internationally is not as burdensome as it may seem. The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol) is an international treaty that allows a trademark owner to seek registration from any of the 96 parties with a single application. Instead of requiring individual applications in the language of each country where an applicant desires protection, the Madrid Protocol allows the applicant to file a single international registration through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An international application may be filed electronically using the Trademark Electronic Application System for International Applications.

While every applicant may not need international protection, it may be wise to consider international registration if you anticipate using your mark overseas or know of potentially infringing marks. More information on the Madrid Protocol and international applications is available from the USPTO.