Skip to main content
Carl Eric Christensen

Carl Christensen’s Answers

37 total

  • If I re-purpose an action figure into a Christmas ornament and sell it, does this constitute trademark infringement?

    I have made various small toys into Christmas ornaments by simply adding a screw eye to the top of the toy, then sell them on ebay as ornaments. I had an item removed b/c the rights owner claimed the items was a counterfeit, when in fact it is ac...

    Carl’s Answer

    All of the above answer your questions. Your question is not as simple as it first appears.

    First, your use of the term "repurpose" appropriately sets off red flags with esteem counsel. Copyright doctrine is the first step off. If you merely resell an action figure to be hung on a tree, to be sure, the first sale doctrine would apply. However, if you substantially change that action figure, you could be making an unauthorized derivative work and violate the Copyright Act. The leading cases on unauthorized derivative works involve integrating copyright protected images into bathroom tile.

    Regarding trademark law, an action figure would not typically constitute a trademark (it may constitute protectable trade dress, but we need not explore that to answer your question). The trademark would be the source indicating word, symbol, name, or device that acts as an appellation of source. Let's say that your action figures are BUTTER brand action figures. There is nothing under trademark law that prevents you from cutting the heads off of all the figures, gluing them on a circular glittery shape, and hanging them from a tree. However, if the mark BUTTER is included with your macabre ornament, and the relevant consuming public is confused as to the source or origin or your BUTTER-branded ornament, it would constitute trademark infringement.

    See question 
  • Domain Name Vs Company Name (Phrase)

    Looking into purchasing a domain name called for example: BostonAcuraParts.com but there is a company in Boston called Boston Acura Parts which is registered as a corporation in Massachusetts, they have a different domain name however. They do n...

    Carl’s Answer

    All of my esteem colleagues above miss the mark. A domain name is not a trademark. Period.

    However, if you register a domain name that is confusingly similar to someone else's trademark, and you do not have a bona fide purpose for that mark and you are using it in bad faith, you can lose that trademark registration to the holder of the mark. The mark holder need not have a federally registered mark to attack your domain name registration, a common-law mark can be enough.

    Ultimately, under the policy that determines whether your domain name is "cybersquatting"--the domain name dispute resolution protocol (UDRP)--the trademark holder has a very low burden in availing itself of the policy and demanding transfer of the offending domain name. While the UDRP states that the complainant must have trademark rights, the burden is very low.

    You should definitely consult with an attorney who understands domain name disputes and the UDRP. While this generally falls under trademark law, it is a sue generis area of law that is only peripherally related.

    See question 
  • Regarding a Minnesota Contract for deed cancellation.

    10 years ago my friend "Seller" sold a lot on a Contract for Deed, the buyer has been making payments on this lot, now the Buyer wants to give it back. The Buyer doesn't want any money back, the lot is almost paid off and they are walking away. T...

    Carl’s Answer

    I just argued in a case at our firm that the cancellation process is still necessary even if the "buyer" or vendee in a contract for deed deeds her interest to the vendor. The reason for this is that the vendee may still have property interests in the property through the contract for deed that remain even after she has quit claimed her interest. Cancellation would clearly terminate any and all interests arising through the contract. You should definitely talk to an experienced real estate attorney about this issue.

    See question 
  • Recent Trademark and domain cybersquat

    I have been running my business since 2010, and I recently just trademarked my business' name. I have been running a website, but I don't have the domain that I want, which is directly the name of my business. I did some research and found out who...

    Carl’s Answer

    I don't know if anyone has squarely answered your question. To bring a claim under the UDRP, you need to first show that your rights in the mark pre-date the registration of the domain name. Now UDRP panels have found that transfers of domain name registrations to not relate back to the first registration, but rather the most recent registration or renewal. So if you can find that that has occurred since 2010, you may have a basis for bringing a UDRP complaint against the registrant. That would be more successful than bringing a cybersquatting complaint, especially because it is unclear if the registrant is in the US.

    See question 
  • I have an online website and want to sell replica handbags. Is this legal if i state that they are replicas?

    The replicas are based off of the michael kors brand

    Carl’s Answer

    To clarify counsel's answer, this is clearly not legal.

    See question 
  • How can I get my name added to a deed as the widow of a land owner who has died and has others also named on the same deed?

    My husband owned hunting land with his best friend in Northern MN. He and this person had an agreement that if something happened to either one of them the other would buy out their half from the widow. My husband died and his friend disappeared. ...

    Carl’s Answer

    As you know, you have an interest in your inchoate and your deceased husband's interest in the property. However, by virtue of paying taxes, you may have a claim for the entire parcel. You may bring a partition action in conjunction with a quiet title action to get control of your interest in the property and divide or take title to it so you can sell.

    See question 
  • We went through a foreclosure/loss of property in 1990(owned since 1975). Amount due 48K - sold 1991 88k+ we received zero

    We received zero from the bank sale "Overbid proceeds" what is our option?

    Carl’s Answer

    It is unclear what you mean by "sold 1991." Regardless, there is not much you can do to claim a potential surplus that may be 23 years old.

    See question 
  • Hi, I live in Minnesota. Our home was recently foreclosed on and there was a sheriff's sale on December 31st 3013.

    The bank purchased our home back at the sale. We received a letter stating that the sheriff would execute and deliver a Sheriff's Certificate to us within 20 days of the order which was dated February 4th. My question is, is this the same thing ...

    Carl’s Answer

    I do not understand why a sheriff's certificate would be delivered to you. A foreclosed mortgagor never receives a copy of a sheriff's certificate unless he or she goes and gets that from the appropriate county property records department. I would scrutinize who sent you this "letter" and what it was purporting to tell you to do. There are a lot of predators that come out to offer foreclosed mortgagors information that is false to co-opt redemption rights or force vacation of the property. Be wary.

    See question 
  • Does a sheriff sale where my first mortgage company obtained home for 155,000 release the lien of the equity line of credit .

    Original loan was an 80/20. I filed chapter 7 which was discharged. Home is currently in redemption period. Is there any benefit to me to attempt to sell home with the possibility of being able to pay off the 1st who obtained home for $155,000...

    Carl’s Answer

    If you redeem, you will reinstate any junior liens that are otherwise extinguished by the foreclosure. If you are considering redeeming on the 1st, you should first try to settle with the junior lien. Be sure that if you settle, it is a settlement in full and you obtain a lien release. You should definitely consult with an attorney who is proficient in this area.

    See question 
  • Hi, is it illegal if I purchase goods and then put my company sticker on them and resell?

    The sticker bears my company's name and is for advertisement purpose. It does not alter the manufacturer's information in any way.

    Carl’s Answer

    What you are asking is whether your placement of a sticker on a product amounts to passing off, which is actionable under the Lanham Act. Unfortunately, any attorney who is familiar with trademark liability regarding passing off will know that this question is fraught with difficulty. In fact, the legally correct answer would be "it depends..." I am afraid that you will need to spend some time with an attorney to get a real understanding of your risks in labeling another's goods with your advertising sticker.

    See question