“War is hell.”
― William T. Sherman, Union General
William Tecumseh Sherman, the former Union General who vowed to “Make Georgia howl” as he marched his troops from Atlanta to Savannah in the closing months of the American Civil War, would probably not find much use on video games even when they include words like “warzone” in their title. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine that he would be amused by the possibility of his likeness being recreated to appear in a Pepsi commercial or to promote a new rollercoaster at Six Flags Over Georgia.
Nevertheless, Sherman most certainly understood the importance of imagery and he used his understanding of human nature to lead his men in a campaign whose memory outlived him and quickly became synonymous with a methodology of warfare that still influences military commanders today.
As such, he might well approve of the battle between computer videogame companies Activision and Warzone trying to wrest control of the relatively generic term for their own purposes, mainly notoriety and financial gain.
So, too, he would recognize the value of Nike taking steps to enforce its rights against a competitor that has been knocking off its designs (even though he might find it hard to comprehend why anyone would pay thousands of dollars for a pair of rubber and leather shoes that would be put on display instead of ever being worn).
In this month’s IP Update, we report on both of these trademark battles and we feature New York state’s new “dead celebrity” law that seeks to protect images, voices, etc. of deceased celebrities from being used with the permission for their heirs (after all, the celebrities can no longer object, they’re dead) and provide those heirs with a means of profiting from such usage through licensing and, when necessary, lawsuits.