T-shirt maker sinks rival with dubious trademark of 150-year-old nautical icon

"Another law professor, Annemarie Bridy of the University of Idaho, lamented gCaptain's situation.

"It's a shame, really, to see people with meritorious defenses give up solely because they can't afford their day in court," she emailed Ars. "But that's how trademark bullying and IP trolling work. Right holders know that it's much cheaper and less stressful for an accused infringer to capitulate or settle than it is to try to win a case in federal court."

Daniel Nazer, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed that situations like this are "unfortunate."

"The cost of defense, even for a small case, can be hundreds of thousands of dollars," he emailed Ars. "And while I think gCaptain should win, it's hard to guarantee that the court will reach the right result. The expense and uncertainty allows trademark bullies to squelch creativity and competition.""