Can a single entity own the term “Jax” as a nickname for Jacksonville?
That’s a question at the heart of a trademark dispute that’s simmering behind the scenes of two local film festivals.
The Jacksonville Film Festival, which wrapped up this year’s edition last weekend, has been around since about 2002, except for a six-year hiatus. It bills itself as a showcase for American and International independent films.
The LOL JAX Film Festival is just 3-years-old. Co-creator Adam Madrid said it focuses on local filmmakers, actors, comedians and musicians.
“We’re about loving our locals by laughing out loud.”
LOL JAX Film Festival is a federally registered trademark, while Jacksonville Film Festival is not. And that’s why, Madrid said, Jacksonville Film Festival President Niki Logoreci has come after him.
“He didn’t get approved for a trademark for Jacksonville Film Festival and is saying that the reason why is because LOL JAX Film Festival is too similar. And he was saying that, basically, he wanted LOL JAX to change its name so there’s no confusion.”
Madrid said Logoreci wants him to drop the word “Jax” from his festival.
Now, there are lawyers involved.
St. Augustine patent-and-trademark attorney Jamin Rubenstein, who is not part of the case, said a trademark grants the holder exclusive rights to use specific combinations of words and logos connected to a product or service.
The more distinctive they are, the more likely they are to get registered.
Which could explain why Jacksonville Film Festival remains un-trademarked.
“The basic rule is that if something’s a geographic indicator, like a city name, or something that the public would associate with a particular geographic place—or a term is merely descriptive of the good or service, the government’s not going to grant an exclusive right to use those kind of terms,” said Rubenstein.
The Jacksonville Film Festival could apply for a supplemental registry which would basically prevent another Jacksonville Film Festival from rolling into town.
But, it appears they’re going for all the marbles. According to Rubenstein, the Jacksonville Film Festival has filed a petition asking the U.S. Trademark Office to cancel LOL JAX Film Festival’s trademark.
Logoreci and his lawyer declined to comment for this story.
Rubenstein also made this point: Although “LOL JAX” is a trademark, the term “JAX” on its own is basically a geographic descriptor that can’t be made exclusive to one owner.