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Authority must protect famous slogan

To the editor:

The Review-Journal Saturday editorial, “Copycat slogans,” as well as Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman’s comments concerning the use of the phrase “What happens here, stays here,” evidence a lack of information concerning the severe consequences that can befall a trademark owner who fails to oppose unauthorized use of the same or a confusingly similar phrase.

Federal trademark law places an affirmative duty on the trademark holder to enforce its rights in the brand, symbol, word, image or sound in which the holder claims trademark rights, generally called the “mark.”

If a business wishes to assert trademark rights in a mark such as, “What happens here, stays here,” the burden falls on the business to announce its rights to the world — by filing federal applications for trademark registration with the United States Patent & Trademark Office — and to then exert considerable diligence, labor, and yes, money, to enforce the rights granted once the expensive and legally complicated trademark registration process has been successfully navigated.

“What happens at Derby stays at Derby,” may seem like an innocent and innocuous play on words to the everyday reader. But to a business such as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, it represents the threat of a gradual erosion of the authority’s ability to protect its mark from unauthorized use by individuals whose motives may not be as pure as “helping advance the convention authority’s marketing efforts.”

Unauthorized trademark use does not help or enhance the efforts of any business except the infringer’s own. In fact, trademark infringement harms lawful businesses by leading, if left unchecked by legal action, to an eventual loss of legal rights to the mark. It also diverts customers away from the business that has spent time and money developing its mark. Meanwhile, the infringer’s marketing efforts and investment usually consist of nothing more than “copying” the creativity of another and riding the coattails of their time, labor and investment in developing a recognizable brand.

“What happens here, stays here,” derives its power as a mark — and legal rights as a trademark — from the association that the convention authority has spent $131 million to create in the minds of consumers between that phrase and the wonderful city we call home.

As a professional who deals with these matters on a daily basis, I can appreciate the reluctance of the convention authority and the mayor to continue spending money challenging the myriad creative ways individuals find to use marks that do not belong to them.

Unfortunately, it is a cost of doing business, and as the convention authority has surely learned by now, such matters are ultimately cheaper to address sooner rather than later.

MICHAEL R. BRUNET

LAS VEGAS

THE WRITER IS AN ATTORNEY FOR STATION CASINOS.

Right to work

To the editor:

I am really getting tired of people such as letter writer Ron Moers taking shots at Henderson Police Chief Richard Perkins regarding his outside employment.

Mr. Perkins has done a fine job in helping the city recover from the last disastrous chief. Contrary to popular opinion, Mr. Perkins did not give up his constitutional rights when he took the job as police chief. He has the same rights as any citizen to pursue outside employment, as long as it is within city policy and approved by the city manager.

Mr. Perkins followed policy, received approval from his boss (the city manager) and did all the right things. He is running a consulting business, not a brothel. Now, let’s let him enjoy his right to work, as we would any other citizen.

CRAIG MULLENS

HENDERSON

What about Sharpton?

To the editor:

Now that the ax has fallen on Don Imus (and rightfully so), perhaps the time has come for the networks to rein in the vitriolic talking head that is the Rev. Al Sharpton. It seems that the good reverend is often in danger of tripping over his own feet in a rush to the head of the line to cast the first stone.

True Christian faith requires the confrontation of evil and injustice. But that having been done, it also requires a measure of forgiveness as a path to healing. The Rev. Sharpton would do well to remember the latter as he busies himself with the former.

ED ARMSTRONG

LAS VEGAS

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