Amateur Se

On November 8, 2021, Al McZeal filed in the Central District of California (2:21-cv-07093-SVW-RAO), a 134 page complaint in with 13 counts against Amazon, Best Buy, Orion Labs, its lawyer and his law firm, and 10,000 unnamed Does, alleging infringement of McZeal’s registered trademark on (Reg. No. 5303249) on SMART WALKIE TALKIE, for smart walkie talkies.

Orion’s lawyers’ offense is raising the descriptiveness of McZeal’s trademark, both as an attack on the validity of McZeal’s registration, and as a defense (15 USC 1115(b)(4) to the descriptive use of the term. Mr. McZeal mentions “fraud” at least 222 times throughout his filing. It does seem that the lawyers’ position (thoughtfully attached to the Complaint” is at a minimum is well-reasoned, and seems likely correct. A member of the bar should be able to assert a reasonable defenses, with fear of being sued for fraud.

Mr. McZeal is proceeding pro se, but the Complaint (Paragraph 51) states that plaintiff “intends to file a motion for substitution of counsel in order to substitute a competent law firm to protect the intellectual property rights and other rights of the plaintiff.” But after his treatment of defendant’s counsel, prospective plaintiff’s counsel should proceed with caution.

Mr. McZeal, for his own part, makes some questionable statements, not the least of which is swearing to the USPTO that his mark was in use on “INTERSTELLAR COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES” in order to get his registration. Mr. McZeal’s complaint is an interesting read, and will leave a definite feeling that we are all better off when licensed attorneys conduct litigation.