Copyright squawk: 'Cleaver' scribe challenged on title

Patricia Barth's Planned Parrothood website warns that violators of her copyright and trademark will be prosecuted..

Jenny Gardiner was pretty excited when she inked a deal with a Simon & Schuster imprint to publish her memoir, Parrothood: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me.

That euphoria evaporated, however when she got a letter from Patricia Barth, a Shokan, New York, resident who claims that Gardiner's book title infringes Barth's trademark on "Planned Parrothood." Barth registered the term in 1983 for mail order and retail services for exotic birds and supplies, according to the U.S. Patent Office website.

On January 28 of this year, Barth re-filed for the trademark, this time to provide "on-line information via the Internet in the fields of animals and pets, relating to breeding, selection of the animals and pets, grooming, feeding and nutrition," according to the Patent Office.

The Patent Office records indicate that the trademark lapsed in 1989. Should Barth really fight the author of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver?

"It's an exclusive trademark," says Barth, claiming that during the 20 years that her mark had elapsed she still had the right to "common-law use."

Barth alleges there are similarities between her website and Gardiner's upcoming book–- particularly on the topic of African Gray parrots.

"Somebody might buy her book and think it's a legitimate Planned Parrothood book," complains Barth. "Not only that, [the title is] disparaging to African grays, which I breed."

However, Gardiner contends that her memoir–- which she describes as "David Sedaris meets Marley and Me, only with a powerful, ferocious beak"–- does not chomp Barth's rights.

Barth refuses to say whether she has a lawyer, but says she intends to issue a preliminary injunction against Gardiner's book and believes the matter is going to court.

She says she's sending out Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices, and warns that even the Hook could be in violation.

"I am going after everyone," she vows. And she tells the Hook that it could be liable for writing about the issue and giving Gardiner pre-publication publicity, which is "almost a double violation," she contends.

"Please immediately remove the word 'parrothood' wherever it appears in this online publication," she writes. "It is a violation of my trademark rights that I own exclusively."

Barth says she too has written a book, but declines to provide the title and suggests the Hook look it up. (The U.S. Copyright Office lists a 1987 title, Bird of 1001 unique bird names.) She also has written articles and says she's compiling material for future books.

Barth owns about 20 parrots and after devoting her life to parrothood, she's aggrieved that Gardiner refuses to change her title. "It's disgusting," fumes Barth. "She knows it's an exclusive trademark."

But does Barth really own the term "parrothood"?

"No, you don't automatically get the right to exclude people from using subparts of your trademark," opines Dale Jensen with Zobrist Law Group.

Barth's TM is "for the term 'Planned Parrothood' and not the term 'parrothood' by itself," concurs intellectual property attorney Sheldon Parker.

In her letter to the Hook, Barth alleges that this newspaper's "pre-publication publicity won't be tolerated in accordance with the Lanham Act (dilution and tarnishment)."


"The anti-dilution provision of the statute applies to famous marks," points out lawyer Parker. "Toyota, Microsoft, and RCA would qualify as famous marks." He suggests that "planned parrothood" could fall short of the higher standard.

"Trademark infringement is based on confusion in the market place," he explains. "If two competitors are not in the same market place, sell through different channels, and/or sell to different categories of customers, then confusion is unlikely."

The term "parrothood" pops up about 2,500 times in a Google search. Barth is undeterred.

"You're interfering with justice," Barth counsels the Hook. "This is a federal case."

Update 3/25/2009: Barth says the title of her 1987 book is listed incorrectly in the U.S. Copyright Office and is Book of 1001 Unique Bird Names.


planned parenthood's website claims that organization has been around for 90 years. if anyone had reason to sue, it would be them suing barth. can anyone honestly say she isn't likely to have profited substantially from jumping onto their coattails to take advantage of their already well know name?

for those of you barth supporters checking in from far away, my post was meant as a humorous reference to another trivial lawsuit by a local chicken farmer.

geez, what is it with bird people?

Deb, Brenda, and to a lesser extent Ancloter:

If Barth proudly represents the term "planned parrothood," more power to her. If she is a great and dedicated parrot breeder, that's great! I have no doubts that she cares passionately about parrots. My qualms is with what she has done outside of her profession. By attacking Gardiner on COMPLETELY unfounded grounds she deserves the term nutter. Someone can be an excellent parrot handler and still bat (hah, no pun intended) crazy. Clearly Barth falls into this category. As the numerous lawyers in this article illustrate, SHE HAS NO LEGAL BEARING FOR THE THREATS SHE IS MAKING. That's undeniable.

If Barth doesn't want character attacks, then she shouldn't do crazy things like this. And Ancloter, I am trying to impress no one. Unlike you, who is CLEARLY attempting to impress friends by defending Barth on this news article, I am writing this because I read it and thought she sounded like a loon (there's another crazy bird pun! my apologies).

Having known Miss Barth via telephone for some years now, I can say
without fear of contradiction that if BS was music then people like John and Squawk would be entire brass bands. These types merely like
to see their names and senseless comments in print in order to feel good about themselves and to show their circle of 'friends' what they have done. Miss Barth, Pat, is one of the most caring
people for her charges that I have ever known and Parrothood, whether Planned or not always brings Miss Barth immediately to mind.
It is a shame that someone is attempting to cut and bale the hay that Pat made while the sun shines. Perhaps justice will once again
prevail and Miss Barth's long established position will be upheld.

That's the problem with blogging, ignorant people who don't even know an individual making rude comments. John grow up.. Close your beak.

I've known Pat for over 30 years, she is an unselfish, respectful, caring, nurturing and dedicated person who has spent a large part of her life raising, training and handling parrots and birds of all sizes. She is well known and respected in the Avian community as a positive source and subject matter expert.

When I hear Planned Parrothood or Parrothood, I think of only one source, Pat Barth.

Pat, stick to your guns! I've known of you, YOUR PLANNED PARROTHOOD and your extrodinary work with parrots for over 20 yrs and I know of no other that has dedicated such extrodinary effort to the well being of parrots.

what is it with bird farmers and stupid lawsuits?

"Numerous Lawyers say that Miss Barth has no claim" so says John in
his latest blurb. He should keep in mind Chief Justice Warren burger of the US Supreme court once stated that, "75 to 90 percent of trial lawyers are incompetent, dishonest or both." So where is
the confidence in what lawyers say?

Barth sounds like a total nutter! Parrothood Parrothood Parrothood. Am I gonna get sued too?

OK. Calling all Parrotheads! Jimmy Buffett Fans of the World, UNITE! Let's sue both the silly wenches into obamablivion. Jimmy Buffett's got the merchandising cash machine perfected to an art form (with commensurate enforcement/infringement attorneys attack parrots in the wings). I'm thinking of starting a bird-cage-cleaning business, but is already taken. Durn. I'd like to thank myself for posting this, er... wait, that's your speech!

I don't have the faintest idea about who is right in the trademark dispute here, but this woman telling The Hook that they can't write about the matter? That's just crazy. She doesn't have a leg to stand on, and apparently knows little about trademark law or, indeed, freedom of the press. How embarrassing for her.