By: Mark R. Malek
Living in Central Florida, the story of the death of young Caylee Anthony, allegedly at the hands of her mother, has really taken over news. The local media loves the case and, on average, at least between five and seven minutes of every local newscast is riddled with some sort of new development. Right now the case is in the jury selection phase and, as you can imagine, there is much difficulty in seating a jury.
I normally do not follow the local news. I find it to be almost disturbing. Nowadays, it is just a series of this person shot that person, there was an accident that backed up traffic today, something happened at Disney, the weather is beautiful, and sports. That’s not interesting enough to keep my attention. Just put ESPN on in the background, and I’m a happy camper. The Casey Anthony fiasco, however, has caught national attention.
The case really got on my radar about two days ago, as I was getting ready for bed and the local news was on the TV as background noise. I heard the word “trademark,” which made me look up. Then I saw Casey Anthony’s parents on the TV and wondered what the TV anchor got wrong. I rewound the DVR to see what I had missed and, sure enough, the TV anchor did not get it wrong. There was a trademark issue involving Casey Anthony’s parents (a pair that have not been getting some good press either).
According to this story, the Anthony’s filed a trademark application on Caylee’s name and has sent a demand to Café Press demanding that merchandise bearing the name “Caylee” be removed from the site. Here are the results of a search I did on the CafePress.com site.
I am not so sure that this story is accurate. I did a search of the USPTO records to view the application and could not find any trademark application for “Justice for Caylee” anywhere. Nor could I find any application that included the name “Caylee” as any part of it. I also did a search of the trademark records for the State of Florida and could not find any applications pending that might relate to this poor girl’s name.
For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that the article is accurate and that the grandparents of Caylee Anthony have filed a trademark application relating to Caylee’s name. How are they using this in commerce? Also, what is so offensive about a group of people that would like to make a little money and, at the same time see some justice done for this child (who I believe was about four years old at the time of her death, was found in a plastic bag dumped in a swamp behind the home of the grandparents, and whose DNA was found in the trunk of her mother’s vehicle)? I understand that this case is emotional on many different levels and, to tell you the truth, there is no particular side that I support with respect to this trademark disagreement. The folks who are selling these t-shirts are not exactly in the right (morally), and the grandparents have no trademark rights.
This is a sad case all around, and there is no winner here. I just can’t believe that in the middle of this entire mess, trademark law has found a way to become an issue.