Love rabbit trails. Long story short, today I decided to finish a letter I drafted months ago.
In it, I explain why I believe the eight varieties of LIFEGUARD / LIFE GUARD trademarks should all be canceled. I’ll send the link today to an attorney who might actually be able to do something. His client has been harassed by the Lifeguard Licensing Corp. for having the audacity to think that lifeguards should be able to buy their stuff from more than one company (or those who pay the ridiculous licensing fees). Most of the “infringers” they go after cave immediately, but they’ve finally picked on someone willing and able to fight! Go team!
Incidentally, Ann Arbor T-shirt Company recently tried getting their own legitimate trademark for LIFEGUARDOUTFITTERS, but sadly the USPTO sent a non-final refusal of registration based on the likelihood of confusion with the Lifeguard Licensing Corp.’s monopoly. Gag.
But, don’t be too hard on the USPTO. Astold me before, their hands are tied by case law. Case law, in the case of LIFEGUARD, favors the big brand even when a homeschooling mom can point out how they’re not playing fair.
Bottom line, the various companies (it may all be the same company with different names over the years) who own/have owned the trademarks for LIFEGUARD and LIFE GUARD have monopolized all commerce related to products used by lifeguards since 1938.
1938! Legalized extortion via licensing for over eighty years. It was registered in what can only be called a historic case of myopia.
View my letter here. (In a fit of caution I redacted the attorney and client names from the letter. I don’t even know if the intended recipient will ever read this, so it seemed prudent to do so.)
Many thanks to Seth Godin for inspiring me to try to make a ruckus. I hope it does somebody good.