The New York Times reports on Leo Stoller’s attempts to possess the word “Stealth”: He Says He Owns the Word ‘Stealth’ (Actually, He Claims ‘Chutzpah,’ Too).
The Times notes that for all Mr. Stoller’s courtroom appearances, he
has not won a single reported case. That hasn’t stopped him from
sending dozens of cease-and-desist letters, like these two from the
Chilling Effects collection: Stealth v. Stealth Signal and Stealth Attack.
Bullying, and even federal trademark registration, only give a
trademark holder the right to police against consumer confusion — not
to take a common word out of the English language.
Mark Lemley clarifies the situation:
It’s based on a misunderstanding of how trademark law works. Trademark law doesn’t give you exclusive rights in words, only the right to prevent consumer confusion. He’s not in a position to claim that his mark is unique or famous. It’s a common English word that’s already been used in many contexts as a trademark by others.