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Uncle Milton, Inc
Hall Of Shame Member
Added December 11, 2008

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Last updated : January 28, 2010


When some says Uncle Milton to us, we think of Uncle Miltie, Milton Berle. Who, or what, else? Uncle and Milt mean Milton Berle. That's Uncle Milton Berle to the right. Corny, funny, loveable. We certainly don't think of an ant farm when someone says Uncle Milton. Do you? If you do, you are in a small group who win every time playing Trivial Pursuit.

Now kiddies, comes the hard part. Who out there remembers what an ant farm was, or still is? Raise your hands high so we can get an accurate count. Good. That's a lot of people. That's just about everyone. We all remember an ant farm as being a thin glass-sided terrarium where ants could tunnel and people could watch them. Somewhat like watching grass grow, it was slow progress but there was progress. And it was considered educationial. A learning experience.

               

Next question. How many out there knew that "Ant Farm" is a trademarked name, much like Chevrolet, Microsoft and Sony? No hands? No one? Actually, "Ant Farm" is a trademarked name more like trademarked names of years ago like Yo-Yo, Aspirin, Cellophane, Thermos, Lite, You've Got Mail, Shuttle, Toll House, Escalator, Buddy List and Brassiere, all of which were declared to be generic terms, and therefore invalid trademarks, because the public identified the name as being the product, not the source of the product.

Look at "aspirin". In 1921 it was declared generic (Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co. 272 F. 505 (S.D.N.Y. 1921)) because, like today, people identify the name as the product (the little white pill) and not as the name under which the company (Bayer) was selling the product. Today, people say "Make me a Xerox of this" when they really mean "Make me a copy of this" and they say "Get me some Scotch Tape" when they mean "Get me some cellophane tape". Think about it. When you see a colorized blob of gelatin and you mentally call it Jello.

Uncle Milton owns the trademark "Ant Farm" and they want you calling your ant farm an "Ant Habitat" unless you purchased your "Ant Farm" from Uncle Milton.

According to ChannelWeb.com, Uncle Milton went after Scott Adams and his Dilbert cartoon big time:

But Adams' biggest laugh came when he pulled out one of the many complaint letters he's received to demonstrate his response to a trademark-infringement nastygram. After using the phrase "ant farm" in a strip, Adams got a series of increasingly heated missives from lawyers for Uncle Milton Industries, which apparently holds a trademark on "ant farms." They wanted an apology and retraction for his generic use of the term.

"It became clear that as long as there's dirt and ants and glass and people who will pay money to see them pressed together, there would be money to pay the lawyer," Adams said.

Resigned to running a correction, Adams published a strip with a character asking what phrase, in lieu of "ant farm," should be used for "a habitat for worthless and disgusting little creatures." Dogbert's answer: "Law school."

(emphasis added)

Uncle Milton has gone after others as well as Scott Adams (above). QuizLaw commented on January 26, 2007 about Uncle Milton sending a demand letter to engadget.com who called an "Antquarium", you guessed it, an ant farm. Duh! It is! engadget.com told them to go bother someone else.

But Uncle Milton hasn't stopped there. Uncle Milton also orders eBay to terminate any auction that uses the words "ant farm" to describe anything that wasn't manufactured by Uncle Milton. Our first comment here is that Uncle Milton is not funny and loveable like Uncle Miltie.

An eBay auction for an "AntWorks TvQuarium" was terminated by Uncle Milton with the contact information of legal@unclemilton.com. Why? Because the auction title said "ANTWORKS TVQuarium - Illuminated Ant Farm Habitat - NEW". So, who from the "legal" department at Uncle Milton responded? Steven Levine, President & CEO of Uncle Milton, who has this job because of nepotism not because he's terribly smart or anything (the company was founded by Milton Levine). And, since he responds personally to emails sent to "legal" at unclemilton.com, we can only conclude he is practicing law without a license as he is falsely holding himself out to be a lawyer if not in fact by inference.

After the seller agreed to use the term "habitat" instead of "ant farm" (which it was it really is), Steven Levine, President & CEO of Uncle Milton, graciously dispensed absolution upon the seller allowing him to relist the "offending" item. In his "dispensation", Pope Levine condescendingly remarked "Sorry for the inconvenience". Inconvenience? To whom? You ass, Steven Levine, President & CEO of Uncle Milton, apparently are blissfully ignorant that eBay keeps score and suspends repeat offenders, aren't you? You shouldn't be, you pseudo-bottom-feeding-lawyer, because when you agreed to join the VeRO Program it tells you repeat offenders are suspended. Inconvenience? Or didn't you read it before signing up in your hurry to protect your generic trademark?

               

At one point Uncle Milton actually had a law firm, Kleinberg & Lerner, LLP (www.kleinberglerner.com) of Los Angeles, Cally-forn-ya, sending out their threats. Maybe Steven Levine, President & CEO & Pseudo-Bottom-Feeder of Uncle Milton digs his role. In 1998, one Marvin H. Kleinberg sent a cease & desist to an on-line "'zine" now at SodBuster.com. Marvin certainly sounds like the classic bottom-feeder.

While we appreciate that Uncle Milton doesn't want his precious trademark to become generic, it's already too late. Regardless of the claims forwarded by Uncle Milton and his jerk-wad lawyers, "ANT FARM" is generic. Get over it and stop harming legitimate sellers.

               
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