From the Interwebs: Thomas Crapper, Trademarks, and Contract Typos

by Brian Rogers on January 28, 2012

in From the Interwebs

Here’s some interesting content from around the web….

Another Contract Typo. A couple of weeks ago I linked to a story about an apparent mistake in the contracts of several assistant NFL coaches that had the parties arguing over about $3 million. This week the ContractsProf Blog reports about an apparent typo in a condo’s offering plan and purchasing agreement, which allowed people to get out of their obligation to purchase condos after the value of the condos plummeted: A $16 Million Typo [File This in: Whoops!].

Trademark Basics. I’ve had trademarks on my brain after attending a presentation by one of my partners last week on the subject. So I was interested to read Salene Kramer’s summary post in Q&A format on her [In Plain English] blog called Intellectual Property and Your Business — What You Need to Know. Coco Soodek provided an example of the benefits of trademark registration on her Profit and Laws blog in War Story: Burger King vs. Burger King.

Is Google Getting Spammy? The more time I spend on the social web, the more sensitive I am to spam. It’s just not cool to be in-your-face about promoting yourself. Sure, we’re all trying to further our businesses, but the social web is more nuanced and classy than middle-of-the-night 1-800-number commercials. Although we hope to gain a business benefit by participating in the conversation, we civilized folk try to provide a lot more value than pitch.

For years, Google got that, but it might be losing its way. There was the recent Google Chrome promoted-search fiasco, plus having a YouTube icon floating in the right margin of my Google+ page is creepy because it reminds me how ubiquitous Google is. (I’d rather use Google’s free products without being reminded that it rules the world.) Yesterday I came across Danny Sullivan’s piece on Search Engine Land called Dear Google: Crappy Results Like This Don’t Give the Impression You Care About Search. The title is especially cogent as yesterday was the anniversary of the death of Thomas Crapper, whose invention is a great convenience to us all and a reminder that you don’t want your product’s brand to become a verb. Trademark lawyers warn against such brands as Bandaid and Xerox becoming nouns and verbs, but there are clearly more interesting examples.

Excellent Law Firm Content. Speaking of promoting your brand by giving away great content online, Texas law firm Jackson Walker has some outstanding pieces on its website. If their marketing folks are trying to make their lawyers look smart, they’re doing a good job.

Privileged Burritos. The ABA Journal reported in As Email Disclaimers Proliferate, Some Lawyers Say They Are Unenforceable that some lawyers think disclaimers at the bottom of emails are becoming useless because no one reads them. That’s stating the obvious, of course, but the point of the article is not just that they’re useless, but that they might not have the legal effect that people think they do. That point is brought home by my favorite quote of the week. James Merklinger, vice president of the Association of Corporate Counsel says, “It gets harder and harder to argue you have a system in place to keep information confidential, but then you have your order from Chipotle marked as privileged.” Well said.

Open-Source Contracts. Ron Friedmann’s blog is always a good source of discussion about law practice issues. This week his post Web Start-Up Docracy Offers Open Source Law sparked some lively discussion by several smart people (plus yours truly) about whether open source contract drafting will ever have legs.

Apple and America. The New York Times published an interesting article last week titled How the US Lost Out on iPhone Work. It’s worth a read. Hat tip to Fred Abramson who tweets under the nom de plume @fredabramson.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mednik January 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

Yeah, the typo stuff is killer. What’s tough is that these aren’t really typos but more like oversights. The tool I’m working on (Ridacto — http://www.ridacto.com) is designed specifically to help attorneys and business professionals help catch these problems before they get into the final draft!

Thanks a lot for sharing and spreading the word about this. I hope that with new technology and open-minded people the world of contract drafting can certainly improve. I appreciate the role you play in spreading awareness.

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