Monday, December 3, 2007


The Society for the Prevention of Trademark Abuse, LLC was formed for the purpose of acquiring the IP portfolio and corporate stock of the Leo Stoller estate (In re Leo Stoller, case no. 05 B 64075 (Bankr. N.D. Ill.)). Mr. Stoller had gained a reputation for a business in nuisance suits based on meritless trademark proceedings in the N.D. Illinois and the USPTO. The entry for him at Wikipedia and the multiple reported court decisions have details for those who are interested. Stoller used his wholly owned companies Central Mfg. Inc., S Industries Inc., Sentra Industries Inc., Stealth Industries Inc. and USA Sports Co. Inc. along with up to 23 proprietorships and assumed name entities to pursue his business plan.

When Stoller filed for bankruptcy protection to hold off an inevitable adverse judgment and new liability, the days were numbered for his portfolio. That portfolio was substantial. From a seed of four registrations associated with a real business in 1985, Stoller grew his collection to over 225 registered trademarks (many extorted from victims as settlement and subject to a license back to continue use), licenses to past victims, and claims in pending proceedings.

Stoller's portfolio was successfully acquired by The Society in Fall 2007. Since then, The Society has sought to undo the harm caused by Stoller. Registrations taken from victims have been re-assigned. Proceedings that involved unsupported assertions of trademark rights have been terminated. Those few proceedings that remain will be resolved in an orderly manner consistent with the complete lack of evidence of bona fide trademark rights disclosed to the bankruptcy trustee.

As The Society winds up the Stoller matter, the logical question is whether others exist who are abusing the trademark system for personal gain. We have heard a couple of nominees from those who followed the Stoller case. Are there others? If so, what criteria should apply? When does legitimate enforcement of real trademark rights associated with a real business cross the line to unfair abuse?