Sunday, September 24, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Easily Confused

December 4, 2017

I’ve got two words for you: Duke, Drank. Are you confused?

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

[audio mp3=""][/audio]

I’ve got two words for you: Duke, Drank. Are you confused?

Can you tell the difference between the two words?

Would you assume that a T-shirt with the word “Duke” on it came from the same source as a T-shirt with the word “Drank” on it?

If you can easily tell the difference between these two labels, you’re not qualified to serve on the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, because the board last week ruled that the two terms are indeed confusing.

It seems that someone applied for a trademark on the word “Drank” on assorted apparel and Duke University objected.

So many questions immediately come to mind.

How did Duke know that Drank was applying for a trademark? Did Duke think its students couldn’t tell the difference (or know how to spell)? Were they worried that drunk Duke students would prefer Drank?

And, why oh why, hasn’t Duke University sued Drake University?

After all, this is what the Trademark Board ruled: “The marks are similar in that the first word in each mark is one syllable that begins with the letter “D” and ends with the letters “K” or “KE” which are pronounced identically in each mark. In addition, the second word in Applicant’s mark, UNIVERSITY, is identical to the second word in some of Opposer’s marks.”

So check this out, Duke:

It’s sooo confusing!

I expect Miami of Ohio’s lawyers will be hearing from Miami of Florida’s lawyers very soon.


Underruled: Is it possible for a state trial court to overrule (or underrule) a state Supreme Court? Apparently so, because it seems to have happened last week in a much-litigated case in Arkansas over whether two same-sex parents can be listed on a child’s birth certificate.

In case you missed it, the case is Pavan v. Smith, a dispute in which the Arkansas Supreme Court was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said same-sex parents should have the same rights as opposite-sex parents. The Arkansas Supreme Court then underruled the U.S. Supreme Court and now the trial judge has underruled the Arkansas Supreme Court.

This is good stuff. The trial judge’s ruling starts off with a very long footnote complaining about how embarrassing the higher court has been.

“As there has to date been no apology to these citizens from the judicial branch of government, this court takes this opportunity to apologize, not just to those who have been directly affected, but to all residents and citizens of the great State of Arkansas.”

My favorite part, though, is the call for creativity, since the judge seems to realize he can’t issue exactly the same ruling that was overruled before. It’s in footnote 5: “Whatever the parties can fashion doesn't have to be materially different from this court's previous effort, it just can't be the exact same.”

This case may go back and forth forever.

Favorite Headline of the week: “Yelling ‘I hate white people’ and punching one isn’t a hate crime, Canadian judge rules.”

After all, I guess, if the puncher hates all kinds of people, then she isn’t racist.

There is another explanation, though – the woman she punched is named Lydia White.

It may have been a family thing.

Categories / Op-Ed

Subscribe to our columns

Want new op-eds sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe below!