Photos, Bongs and Blueprints dominate the March Indiana IP Docket


, ,

The Indiana intellectual property docket continues to be dominated by photography and counterfeit bong cases. In March 2019, RooR International continued their crusade against Indiana smoke and vape shops. Many of the smoke shop defendants have seen the advantage of “strength in numbers” and retained the same defense attorney to assist with a common defense.

Sadly, another 10 defendants, including Eli Lilly, the National Association of Realtors, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (!), were caught up in Richard Bell’s skyline photo litigation web. I’ll be curious to see whether these organization’s high-priced lawyers can figure out a different resolution than previous Bell defendants.

Design Basics, a regular copyright plaintiff, returns to protect a set of its architectural drawings.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for an interesting trademark case to be filed in April.  I’ll be the first to let you know.


  • Richard Bell  – 10
  • Oppenheimer
  • Iwasaki

Counterfeit Bongs

  • RooR International BV – 7

Architectural Drawings

  • Design Basics LLC

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 6.17.51 AM.png

Copyright lawsuit filed over Chicago skyscraper photograph


, ,

Here’s yet another photography copyright lawsuit, this one involving the unauthorized reproduction and public display of a photograph of skyscrapers in Chicago.

The defendant, a corporation based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, allegedly used a  registered skyscraper photograph of plaintiff, an Oregon-based photographer, on their website without authorization.

Other than the RooR counterfeit bong cases, photography cases are the only ones being filed lately. Although I don’t expect anything unusual in this case, and predict a quick settlement, I’ll continue to monitor the lawsuit to see how it might differ from the multitudinous Bell cases.

Iwasaki v. Apollo Design Technology, Inc.

Court Case Number: 1:19-cv-00094
File Date: Monday, March 18, 2019
Plaintiff: Rich Iwasaki
Plaintiff Counsel: Richard Liebowitz of Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC
Defendant: Apollo Design Technology, Inc.
: Copyright Infringement, Integrity of Copyright Management Information
Court: Northern District of Indiana
Judge: TBD
Referred To: TBD


Bell and Bongs continue to dominate Indiana Intellectual Property Filings


, ,

Skyline photographs and unauthorized bongs continue to be the primary driver of intellectual property litigation in Indiana in early March. Richard Bell’s internet-scouring spiders have apparently found another batch of entities that used his Indianapolis skyline photograph, including a big name, Eli Lilly and Company.

RooR has continued to crack down on Indiana smoke and vape shops for the alleged sale of counterfeit products. Surely news of these lawsuits has made the rounds of smoke shops owners by now, who will definitely want to be closely checking their inventory of RooR water pipes for authenticity, rather than wind up as next week’s defendant.

Regular filer Design Basics has also returned to protect a set of its architectural drawings.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 5.12.05 AM.png

Happy Pi Day!

3/14…it’s International Pi Day!  As you know, Pi or π is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean space; this is the same value as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius.  Today is the day that we celebrate this most irrational and transcendental number.

Fun Pi facts:
– There is no zero in the first 31 digits of pi.

– The Egyptians and the Babylonians are the first cultures that discovered  about 4,000 years ago.

– The pi memory champion is Hiroyoki Gotu, who memorized an amazing 42,000 digits.

– William Jones, a self-taught English mathematician born in Wales, is the one who selected the Greek letter  for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter in 1706.

Also…Happy 132nd birthday Albert Einstein!

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

Proper Use of the Federal Trademark Registration Symbol ®


As a trademark attorney, I almost always notice whether a company is using the federal trademark registration symbol, ®. From time to time, I’ll check out their registration on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database, only to find that the company doesn’t actually have a federal registration, and sometimes not even an application.

It’s important to know that the federal registration symbol may not be used with trademarks until they are actually registered with the USPTO. Using the ® without a registration can get you into trouble. Knowing and willful misuse of the federal registration symbol can be considered an attempt to deceive or mislead consumers and subject you to potential fraud claims.

However, the USPTO acknowledges that misunderstandings about use of the federal registration symbols are more frequent than occurrences of actual fraudulent intent.  Common reasons for improper use of the federal registration symbol that do not indicate fraud are:

  • Mistake as to the requirements for giving notice (confusion often occurs between notice of trademark registration, which may not be given until after registration, and notice of claim of copyright, which must be given before publication by placing the notice © on material when it is first published);
  • Inadvertence in not giving instructions (or adequate instructions) to the printer, or misunderstanding or voluntary action by the printer;
  • The mistaken belief that registration in a state or foreign country gives a right to use the registration symbol
  • Registration of a portion of the trademark
  • Registration of the trademark for other goods
  • A recently expired or cancelled registration of the subject trademark
  • Another trademark to which the symbol relates on the same label

See TMEP §906.02.

Contact a trademark attorney if you have questions about the proper use of the federal trademark registration symbol.