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Hollywood Docket: Did Netflix Register the Qwikster Trademark?

A roundup of lawsuits, court decisions, and other legal items of note in the world of entertainment.

Netflix
Jin Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Netflix has announced that it is splitting its DVD and streaming businesses into two separate entities. The company's traditional DVD-by-mail business will now be known as "Qwikster," but did it register a trademark on the name?

The US Patent & Trademark office shows no records on the mark "Qwikster," but if the name was registered in the past few days, it's possible that the registration hasn't been uploaded into the database yet. 

STORY: Humbled Netflix Separates DVD and Streaming Businesses, Abandons Price Changes

Then again, the company evidently failed to claim the Twitter handle @Qwikster, before changing its name. The account is controlled by a weed-smoking elmo.

The USPTO shows nothing on "Qwikster," but there are hits on the similarly spelled "Quickster," first registered for telephone indexes by Bates Manufacturing Co. in 1981. Another company also got to "Quickster" last week, registering the mark for quick-assembly portable multi-sport practice nets.

Reportedly, Netflix has been buying up domain names on Qwikster misspellings, so we'll see if there's any trademark issues in the midst.

In other entertainment law news:

  • The First Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the opinion of a federal judge who slashed a $675,000 jury verdict against song pirate Joel Tenenbaum. In this long-running case, a judge reduced the penalty to $67,500 for sharing 30 songs because the original award was "unconstitutionally excessive," but now the appeals circuit has reinstated the original amount, finding that constitutional questions about the limits of statutory damages in copyright cases belong to Congress.
  • Speaking of file-sharing, don't blame the girls. A new study finds that women are staying away from Pirate Bay and BitTorrent. There's no word on why The Vampire Diaries is a popular P2P item.
  • Over in China, acclaimed director Zhang Yimou has been cleared of charges for infringing the copyright on the city of Anshun's opera for his 2005 film, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. The case was the first to be brought under the new Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Law, which sought to preserve Chinese national traditions through the conferment of certain intellectual property rights.