Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

The North Face v. The South Butt.

Posted in General Commentary by Mike Dockins on January 15, 2010


In case you were not aware, The North Face, a company selling high-end “outdoor” apparel, sued a teenager in Missouri for, among other things, trademark infringement. The teenager, being of strong entrepreneur mind and spirit, started selling clothes under his own mark, The South Butt. Apparently the young gentlemen wanted to generate social commentary on the absurdity of spending an inordinate amount of money on The North Face clothes by his classmates.

As trademark infringement, boiled down to its essence, is about deceiving, confusing, or otherwise misleading the public, it is hard to imagine The North Face will succeed in its lawsuit. This also ignores well established fair use law that allows for parodies of trademarks. In the end (pun intended), one surely can see the parody of The South Butt in the face of (pun intended) The North Face. Let’s hope the courts can get it right.

If you want to support The South Butt LLC, you can visit their online store and purchase a shirt.

For more background information about the case, see what ABC news had to say here in October 2009.

For those interested in the court filings, we recommend reading the Answer filed by The South Butt LLC. It is one of the more humorous Answers you will ever read.

President Obama Calls USPTO Case Management System “Embarrassing”.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on January 15, 2010


The following quote is from as set of prepared remarks made yesterday afternoon byPresident Obama at the Opening Session of the Forum on Modernizing Government, held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.

Believe it or not, in our patent office — now, this is embarrassing — this is an institution responsible for protecting and promoting innovation — our patent office receives more than 80 percent of patent applications electronically, then manually prints them out, scans them, and enters them into an outdated case management system.  This is one of the reasons why the average processing time for a patent is roughly three years.  Imminently solvable; hasn’t been solved yet.

The President was referring to the USPTO as one example where the Federal Government has failed to timely update or replace outdated technology, and how it adversely affects efficiency. 

However, even if this statement about the USPTO is true (and Gene Quinn at IPWatchdog points out that it really isn’t),  is it really a fair example?  Certainly, most practitioners recognize that the USPTO has a severe problem with patent pendency, which should be an embarrassment in and of itself.  But wouldn’t any rescanning that occurs just minimally affect pendency, especially relative to all the other factors that impact pendency of an application, such as the quota-based count system, Examiner retention and training, etc., to name just a few? 

Any thoughts from our readership?