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Category Archives: Advertising

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A Kind Demand Letter? Stranger Things Have Happened (Apologies)

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Infringement, Marketing

Chicago pop-up bar “The Upside Down” rode a wave of popularity program all the way to Netflix’s legal department. And that’s where things took an unexpected turn! Okay, that lede could probably be less obviously playful. You might say the same thing about Netflix’s cease-and-desist letter to the operators of “The Upside Down.” Featuring replicas of the Stranger… Continue Reading

Are pretzel crisps crumbling into genericness?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Marketing types and legal types who review labels, be well advised to choose words used carefully. In other words, if you believe you own rights in Pretzel Crisps as a trademark, it’s not wise to use the number of so-called “Crisps” as the serving size, especially with no trademark notice symbol. Frito-Lay’s successful 2014 generic… Continue Reading

PSL® Season Is Upon Us

Posted in Advertising, Branding

Exult, lovers of autumn and decorative gourds – the air is crisp and the leaves are changing. And, in the treasured annual tradition, this week marked the release of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte – or PSL® as they may prefer to call it. In the spirit of the season, I sought to see if any zealous… Continue Reading

2017 Minnesota State Fair Comes to a Close

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Loss of Rights, Marketing, Trademarks

Well, it’s official, the 2017 Minnesota State Fair is almost in the books now, it came and went, without the longstanding Original Deep Fried Cheese Curds stand (notwithstanding a heroic #savethecurds campaign); it was instead replaced by Big Fat Bacon, shown above. Love the prominent use of the TM on the signage, even if it… Continue Reading

A Bold Victory for Copyright Fair Use

Posted in Advertising, Fair Use

Get your webcams ready: the reaction video genre got a huge shot in the arm from the Southern District of New York this week. h3h3 Productions, a popular YouTube channel with well over four million subscribers, has been embroiled in a fair use lawsuit for for a couple of years now. The channel’s proprietors and… Continue Reading

Game Over for Nestlé? Atari Sues Over “Breakout” Kit-Kat Ads

Posted in Advertising, Fair Use, Law Suits, Trademarks

For most of us, video games and candy go together perfectly, but that doesn’t mean they always get along. In fact, last week the “original” video game company, Atari Interactive, sued food and candy behemoth Nestlé in California federal court. What put Atari on tilt? It was Nestlé’s incorporation of the game play, layout, and… Continue Reading

Going Bananas Over the Eclipse

Posted in Advertising, Famous Marks, Food, Guest Bloggers, Look-For Ads, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Squirrelly Thoughts

–James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications As I perused The New York Times on Sunday Aug. 20th, Chiquita Banana burst forth amid all the brouhaha reporting with a full page of the best ad I’ve seen in a long time. I feel sorry for those who missed it, because most of us can use a good belly… Continue Reading

I’m Saying, I’m Down with the I’MN Slogan

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Trademarks

Love the new Minnesota State Lottery advertising slogan: I’MN. Or, as one of my college age sons often says, when he’s in agreement with someone’s idea or proposal, I’m down. The lottery slogan cleverly plays off the affirmative and adoptive slang phrase “I’m in” (i.e., “Count me in”) — it also plays off the MN… Continue Reading

My Namesake Triumphs: Tiffany & Co. awarded $19.35 million

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, Law Suits, Product Packaging, Trademarks

The four year saga ended (at least for now) with Tiffany & Co. being awarded for its vigorous fight to maintain its trademark and protect against genericide.  As previously reported, Tiffany & Co. filed suit against Costco Corporation (“Costco”) to protect its trademark with respect to engagement rings on Valentine’s Day in 2013.  (Read my… Continue Reading

Joust Do It? A New Form of Nike Battle Cry?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Famous Marks, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

By now, you’re familiar with my enjoyment in capturing and sharing new billboard signage that hits the streets of the Twin Cities. Question, what tagline might have inspired this one? Was the Minnesota Renaissance Festival inspired by Nike’s famous “Just Do It” tagline? Almost four years ago now, we noted — in this gem from… Continue Reading

It’s as Suggestive as a Butter Knife for Steak

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the Spectrum of Distinctiveness for trademarks, and the all-important difference between suggestive marks and merely descriptive ones, with only the former being allowed immediate rights based on first use. Creativity is what separates the power of suggestion from the weakness and limbo of descriptiveness. Remember the floating feather… Continue Reading

Titleist Trademark Tarnishment?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Famous Marks, Fashion, First Amendment, Squirrelly Thoughts

During today’s first round of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, many a golf ball bearing the famous TITLEIST cursive script will be lofted into the heavens – meanwhile, back on the ground, the brand’s owner is attempting to stamp out a lewd parody of its trademark. An online golf apparel company, I Made Bogey,… Continue Reading

Trick or Trademark? Mars Says Hershey’s Can’t Own “SCARY” Candy.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Sandwiched between 90 degree days in a Minnesota summer, the idea of Halloween wasn’t on my radar – until I learned about the latest dispute between candy giants Mars and Hershey’s. Mars and its subsidiary own many well-known candy brands, including M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Life Savers, and others. Not to be outdone, Hershey maintains… Continue Reading

Is Foster’s Australian for False Advertising?

Posted in Advertising, False Advertising, Food, Law Suits, Trademarks, USPTO

While trademark infringement is the headliner for claims brought under the Lanham Act, the law also precludes false advertising and unfair competition. Most states also have laws addressing deceptive trade practices addressing similar misconduct by advertisers. Recently one consumer sued MillerCools under these laws, claiming he had been deceived into purchasing Fosters beer, thinking the… Continue Reading

Battle of the Bands and the Clothiers

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fashion, Keyword Ads, Law Suits, Marketing, Trademarks

The famous Coachella Music Festival is held every April in Indio, California. This year Beyoncé, Radiohead, Lorde and several DJs (including DJ Snyder, DJ Kahleel, DJ Shadow) performed. The Coachella Music Festival, LLC and Goldenvoice, LLC (collectively “Coachella Parties”) sued Urban Outfitters, Inc. (“Urban Outfitters”) and its subsidiary Free People of PA LLC (“Free People”)… Continue Reading

Nominative Fair Use of Ride-Share Logos?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

Earlier this year, we contemplated a suitable, accurate, and efficient generic name for the service category created by the highly-disruptive Uber brand: App-Based Ride Service. A visit to Chicago this past weekend, left me thinking that Ride-Share Service or Ride Sharing are suitable alternatives, that appear to be gaining some traction, as seen here: The… Continue Reading

Rapala’s Public Service Announcement?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Trademarks

Sorry for my delay in reporting Rapala’s annual billboard campaign, which began about a month ago, right around the fishing opener, more on my delay later. As you can see, it reads more like a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement than past billboards, playing on the serious problem of texting while driving. Anglers probably handle their… Continue Reading

Acceptable Identification of Goods/Services

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Genericide, Marketing, Trademarks, USPTO

Beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, so while strolling through the Minneapolis skyway, I captured the above floor-to-ceiling advertisement to tell another trademark story. It’s been a while since we’ve written about the importance of brand owners not only thinking hard about their brand names, but also devoting thought and care to the… Continue Reading

What Do You Think Of Having ® On Your Store Sign

Posted in Advertising, Branding, International, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks

I traveled to Barcelona last week to attend the International Trademark Association (“INTA”) Annual meeting. I arrived at the Barcelona Airport the requisite three hours before your international flight.  During my long stay at the Barcelona airport I saw three store signs with ® on them.  They included the following signs:    Although many stores… Continue Reading

Change Your Name Already!

Posted in Advertising, Almost Advice, Branding, Domain Names, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Product Packaging, SoapBox

-Mark Prus, Principal, NameFlash Name Development I sometimes get asked by prospective clients if they should change their name, and I help them evaluate if a change is necessary. But sometimes there are stubborn companies who persist in marketing a name that is not right. Overstock.com is a prime example of this behavior. In early… Continue Reading