What's in a name? Bucks

It seems to us - who have no claim to legal expertise - that Carson City's Convention and Visitors Bureau needs to fight to use Mark Twain's name in its advertising.

A company called CMG Worldwide is trying to squeeze $1,500 out of the bureau for its past use of Twain in advertising material. The company, which has a contract with the Mark Twain Foundation Trust, is based in Indiana, where trademarks are recognized for 100 years after the person's death.

But we're operating in Nevada, which recognizes a trademark for only 50 years. How a state law in Indiana can tell a Nevada visitors bureau what to do is something, we guess, that lawyers need to figure out.

Nevertheless, as we've pointed out before, there are numerous places named for Twain all over America - including a Lyon County town and a Carson City school.

Isn't it a historical fact that Twain worked and wrote here. What's the visitors bureau supposed to do, word its advertisement something like: "Come visit the Comstock, where a really, really famous American writer whose name rhymes with Dark Train once worked?"

If the bureau settles with CMG Worldwide for past use of the name, it will be admitting that it did something wrong and will give the company leverage to forbid use of Twain's name in the future. That may be true in Indiana, but it's not true in Nevada.

Of course, the issue isn't over Twain or his writing or his image. It's over the money the company stands to collect from licensing. Without some kind of legal challenge, the visitors bureau won't have much of a leg to stand on if it wants to negotiate a deal.

Twain himself was a fairly ingenious self-promoter, so it doesn't surprise us that someone is profitting from his name nearly 90 years after his death. Perhaps the visitors bureau can come up with a clever way around the Indiana law.

For example, Carson City is actually home to Orion Clemens, whose brother, Sam, became a really, really famous writer whose pen name rhymes with Dark Train ....


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