Articles Tagged with halloween

Jack-o-latern - Image via WikipediaYou know I love Halloween, right? Last year I wrote about selling haunted houses. This year it’s Halloween IP. We have two suits queued up in Dockets regarding trademark of Halloween Haunted House brands. It’s time for some trademark awesomeness: who owns the right to scary names?

First up with Happy Halloween, Inc. [seriously] v. Screams, LLC [no, seriously]. Both parties run haunted houses in Texas. According to the complaint, Happy Halloween, Inc. had hosted a website at screams.com for 14 years. Screams, LLC, filed an action to transfer that domain, alleging cyber-squatting and trademark violation. Screams LLC registered the mark “Screams” with the USPTO. The registration was filed on July 15, 1996, and its first use in commerce is listed as May 18, 1996. Happy Halloween registered the domain name screams.com on January 22, 1997, according to the complaint. So, while Screams was technically first, it’s sat on this for 14 years with no action  — laches, anyone? Happy Halloween claims that the term “screams” is a “generic term characteristic of the Halloween season.” It denies that it is cybersquatting, and considering the facts, that seems pretty clear.

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Halloween is almost here–time to resurrect the ghosts of First Year Property Law past. . . with Stambovsky v. Ackley. This was my favorite case in law school, and I think about it every time I watch Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. In a professional context, of course–don’t these people know what they are doing to their property values?! Who wants to disclose that their house was on a ghost reality show?

Stambovsky, as you may remember, attempted to rescind a housing sale contract on the grounds that the defendant seller failed to disclose to plaintiff buyer that the house was haunted. Because the seller publicized the “hauntings,” the house had a negative reputation in the community which affected the value of the home. Plaintiff, who did not live in the area, had no way to discover this reputation and the Court found an exception to the general rule of caveat emptor in real property contracts. It held that “as a matter of law, the house was haunted.” Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 AD 2d. 254, 256 (New York App. Div. Dept. 1 1991). The opinion is full of colorful language:

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