The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog noted today that UFC sued a fledgling competitor for using an octagonal ring — and won. Why? Because UFC trademarked the octagon, bitches.
The case centers on California-based Total Fighting Alliance, a competitor of UFC’s started two years ago by Todd Meacham, a former mixed martial arts fighter. Last year, UFC filed a suit against Meacham’s company after he refused to pay $2,500 a year for a license to use the octagonal fence and mat. Meacham, 39 years old, claimed octagonal fences and mats are generic to the sport and told the Law Blog that he fought in eight-sided rings long before the creation of the UFC in 1993…
[One intellectual property lawyer] says the decison [sic] “comes close to providing overly broad protection for such a basic geometric shape.” That said, it’s not an outlier. Rather, Clark adds, the ruling is “part of a larger evolution in which trademark protection is being extended to things beyond distincitve [sic] words or pictures,” including sounds, scents and colors. Two examples: United Parcel Service received a trademark over its use of the color brown; 3M was able to trademark the color yellow in its use of post-it notes.
Thank God our legal system preserves the integrity of trademarks for brown, yellow, and octagons. Great work, lawyers. I just hope the Department of Defense has a trademark for five-sided shapes. I'd hate to see some militia make a knock-off Pentagon. That would totally change the way I look at the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and whatever the fifth one is.
(Thanks to flubby and Christmas Ape)