Haunted Trademarks

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.

Despite this, ICANN found for Screams, LLC in its URDP hearing — possibly because the Defendant has actually registered the trademark. Happy Halloween is now pursuing its remedy in federal court.

Next, we’ve got Haunted Things, LLC v. Halloween Productions, Inc., which is a more straightforward cyber-squatting case. According to the complaint, Haunted Things publishes a magazine under the trademarks “Haunted Attraction” and “Haunted Attraction Magazine.” Defendant owns the domains for hauntedattractionmagazine.com and hauntedattractionsmagazine.com, which both redirect to Defendant’s main site, hauntworld.com.

Plaintiff accuses Defendant of cybersquatting under ACPA and infringing upon their trademarks.  Defendant’s Answer asserts laches and counterclaims with a declaratory judgment from the Court that the terms “haunted attraction: and “haunted attraction magazine” are generic and descriptive terms in which Plaintiff has no trademark rights.

Bonus: Plaintiff Happy Halloween Inc. boasts that it “has been one of the best haunts in the country by hauntworld.com,” the Defendant in the other case. Seems like the Haunted House business is a small world.

Here are some fun Haunted House pictures and videos, while we’re talking about this.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/scared-bros-at-a-haunted-house

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAWVbJ2r9SE&sns=fb

Enjoy and Happy Halloween, everyone!