Lin’s “Lin”tellectual Property

As a life-long Knicks fan, these past few weeks have been nothing short of surreal. I could never in wildest dreams have envisioned anything close to Jeremy Lin’s rise. Like most of the city, country, and, to a certain extent, world, I cannot get enough of “Linsanity.”

One of the more interesting consequences of the Jeremy Lin phenomenon is the rise of the word “Linsanity” itself. While many have been making puns out of Jeremy Lin’s last name, arguably, the most popular of these puns has been “Linsanity.” In fact, “Linsanity” is so popular in American vernacular that the American Dialect Society (a non-profit group of linguists who in January of every year, vote on the top word or phrase that has become prominent or notable in the past year) has made statements indicating that “Linsanity” is a contender for the word of the year. Last year’s word of the year was “Occupy.”

As a result of “Linsanity’s” popularity, it seems likely that there will be some semblance of a legal battle over the trademarking of word “Linsanity.” Jeremy Lin himself filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking to trademark the phrase “Linsanity” on Feb. 13th, but he was not the first. According to Bloomberg, Yenchin Chang, a 35-year-old resident of California filed an application on the 7th, and on the 9th, Andrew Slayton, also of California, filed an application to trademark “Linsanity.”

In all likelihood, if the United States Patent and Trademark Office is going to award a trademark for the term “Linsanity,” it will award it to Jeremy Lin over the other applicants even though they filed before Lin. Because “Linsanity” “points uniquely and unmistakably” to Lin and because the others seemingly put in the application’s hoping to profit off “Linsanity’s” rise, without Lin’s permission and thus were likely acting in “bad faith,” the trademark would most likely be awarded to Lin.

Assuming Jeremy Lin is awarded the trademark, I cannot help but wonder how much his ownership would impact illegal usage of “Linsanity,” specifically in China who is known for not adhering to American intellectual property law. Will the overwhelming popularity of Jeremy Lin in China (who claim Lin as their own even though both of his parents emigrated from Taiwan), impact China’s illegal goods market, specifically those using intellectual property belonging to him?

One comment

  1. I am also a Knicks fan and have been happily surprised by the performance of Jeremy Lin. What has been even more surprising is how quickly the NBA started pushing out “Linsanity” merchandise. It seems that before we even blinked there were “Linsanity” t-shirts, towels, and key chains in the stores. After seeing all of the merchandise I was just left wondering if Jeremy Lin would ever see a dime from the sales.

    I would have to assume that both the NBA and the Knicks franchise take a portion of those sales for themselves, and I wonder if Lin is awarded the trademark how much would be left for him. It is interesting that two other people beat Lin to the punch to try and trademark “Linsanity,” but I think that the United States Patent and Trademark Office will award the trademark to Lin. Although Lin may not have been the person who came up with the word “Linsanity” there would be no “Linsanity” without him, so it only seems fair that he is awarded the trademark

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