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Legalities Behind ‘Cloakroom’

Since Taegan Goddard started his “Cloakroom” blog at The Week, it has come to our attention that there are now at least three “Cloakroom” politics blogs.

The first was apparently started by writers at the conservative Family Research Council. The second is more of an online and print column by Human EventsNeil W. McCabe, whose came before Goddard’s but, contrary to McCabe’s original belief, was not the first “Cloakroom.”

Not one of the three is legally trademarked. But Erik Pelton, an intellectual property rights attorney in Virginia, told FishbowlDC that doesn’t mean one of the blogs couldn’t lay more claim to “Cloakroom” than the others…

“In the U.S., when somebody uses a name first, they have the rights,” he said. “Even if they never filed to have it registered.” Pelton said this is called “common law rights.”

Furthermore, Pelton said that even if McCabe or Goddard tried to legally register the name “Cloakroom” first, the original blog, Family Research Council’s “TheCloakroomBlog,” would still have seniority in terms of rights.

“That happens to be a creative name which bolsters their argument,” he said. “If it were a very vanilla or descriptive name– that kind of name is more difficult to protect because it’s much less creative. Since it’s sort of an insider term, it’s is a more creative word that would generally be entitled to more protection.”

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