DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Wes Anderson

View my professional biography

As far back as I can remember, I've been fascinated with graphic design, visuals, and branding. I like to trace this back to my seventh birthday, when I was presented with a copy of Marc Okkonen’s Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century. The book is a series of photographs cataloging the uniform history of every team in Major League Baseball. It’s considered the definitive history of baseball uniforms -- if you’re into that kind of thing.

I pored over that book throughout my childhood, memorizing the minute year-to-year uniform and logo tweaks of my beloved Chicago Cubs. For a seven-year-old kid, there may be no stronger brand than a favorite baseball team. After all, fans root for laundry -- it’s the logo on the cap and jersey that lives on long after a favorite player retires or gets traded out of town. I certainly didn’t decide to pursue trademark law at that point (I was too busy planning my career as the next Mark Grace), but in hindsight it has been a natural fit.

Many years later, as an intern at an IP boutique firm, I worked on a trade dress infringement case between two giants of the toilet paper industry. There are few better opportunities to receive a crash course in the world of toilet paper: from market research, to branding, to production. I quickly learned that trademarks are everywhere, even (or perhaps especially) in the bathroom. It was three-ply excitement from start to finish, and I was hooked.

When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me on the golf course, messing with gadgets, or basking in the frivolity of Chicago sports.

Posts by Wes Anderson

HAVANA CLUB: The Rum’s Back on Ice

Posted in Agreements, Branding, Counterfeits, Famous Marks, Food, Law Suits, TTAB, USPTO

Last year, I blogged about the decades-long dispute for the HAVANA CLUB trademark in the United States. Nearly ten months later, well, its spirit lives on. To briefly recap: in one corner, Empresa Cubana Exportadora, an arm of the Cuban government, owns a registration for the HAVANA CLUB trademark. In the other corner, Bacardi claims rights… Continue Reading

Don’t Get TRUMPed By a First-Filer

Posted in Almost Advice, Branding, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Trademarks

Reading over this story on Donald Trump’s decades of headaches (and conveniently-timed successes) with the TRUMP trademark and the Chinese Trademark Office, I was reminded, as I always am, of the importance of filing federal trademark applications. The examination process for Trump’s marks in China, and the Chinese trademark enforcement regime generally, is rather opaque… Continue Reading

Likelihood of Confusion at Its Most Blatant

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Food, Squirrelly Thoughts

Imagine my surprise and amusement to find a recent shipment of wine included a very interesting red blend. The bottle featured a name that would make any trademark lawyer do a double-take: That’s LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION wine, 2015 vintage (a good year for consumer confusion). Of course, the wine itself invites confusion, as indicated on the… Continue Reading

Checking in on Sony’s “Lens-Style Camera” Application

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Trademarks

Way back in 2015, I blogged about an interesting non-traditional configuration mark application from Sony for its QX100 “Smartphone Attachable Lens-Style Camera” with the PTO. Here we are nearly two years later, and Sony’s battle continues. As expected, the USPTO has refused registration of Sony’s mark on two main fronts: the functionality of the “cylinder” configuration… Continue Reading

Initial Interest Confusion: Initially Interesting, Ultimately Harmless?

Posted in Advertising, Civil Procedure, Infringement, Squirrelly Thoughts

In the market for sunglasses, I recently went to Amazon.com and searched for “Holbrook sunglasses.” HOLBROOK is, of course, a trademark of Oakley, Inc. – but I had no intention of purchasing Oakleys. Instead, I wanted a far cheaper pair of sunglasses based on that style, so I could more easily justify inevitably losing them. Was… Continue Reading

ORAL B Wireless Floss?

Posted in Advertising, Dilution, False Advertising, Famous Marks

I recently purchased a post-holiday present (for myself) – Apple’s AirPods, wireless headphones designed to integrate with Apple’s various products, including the iPhone 7 (which, helpfully, discarded the headphone jack in the name of “courage.” The earbuds themselves are quite tiny, and likely quite easy to lose, so they come in a case with a… Continue Reading

JORDAN v. QIAODAN: The Lessons of Trademark Enforcement in China

Posted in Advertising, False Advertising, Famous Marks, Infringement, International, Law Suits

Whether or not you agree Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, he is certainly well-known. And after an over four-year battle, China’s trademark courts have agreed. Michael Jordan and his JORDAN brand have been a staple of Nike’s shoe and apparel business for over thirty years. Nike so values the “Jumpman”… Continue Reading

Sorry, Apple, Assignment of ITU Applications Isn’t MAGIC

Posted in Advertising, Branding, International

Another installment of Apple surveillance: it appears the tech giant has enlisted a shell company to file trademark applications for its newest products. Problem is, they might be stuck there. On October 27, Apple will hold a press event at its Cupertino, California headquarters, presumably to introduce new Macintosh computers. One rumored feature of the new… Continue Reading

Nihilist Arby’s: We Have The Tweets

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Dilution, Fair Use, Famous Marks, Marketing, Social Media, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

I recently came across this new piece of merchandise available for sale online: Look familiar? Those familiar with the restaurant chain Arby’s likely think so. The shirt is a product of the parody Twitter account @nihilist_arbys, created by a former writer for The Daily Show. With occasional references to current events, Nihilist Arby’s darkly comedic tweets… Continue Reading

For Wrigley Field Street Vendors, It’s Win or Go Home

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Counterfeits, Fair Use, Fashion, Marketing, Trademarks

The Chicago Cubs are rolling into the playoffs, putting the finishing touches on a historically dominant regular season with over 100 wins. Cubs fans (like me) even dare to dream that the century-plus long championship drought may finally come to an end this fall, if the team can carry its impressive form into the postseason…. Continue Reading

NEIL LANE: Branding in Paradise

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Fashion, Product Configurations

I’ll admit it: if there’s a frivolous TV franchise I watch, it’s probably The Bachelor in one of its many iterations. Each series fits the same template: caricatures of eligible men and women stoke the flames of tear-stained conflict for a few weeks, before the show tries to narrow its focus to a true romantic connection (or, at least,… Continue Reading

The Olympic Branding Blackout

Posted in Advertising, Branding

Has there been a more constant presence at the Rio Olympics than #brands? I saw it everywhere, from the Polo-branded opening ceremony garb (met with the requisite outrage) to Michael Phelps’ “MP” branded swimwear (of questionable durability). So it came as a huge surprise to learn the Olympics has a very specific rule regarding branding – “Rule… Continue Reading

A Faster, Sleeker Milk Jug

Posted in Food, Marketing, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Product Configurations, Taste

Another for the file of newly-registered product configuration marks: acquired distinctiveness, sold by the gallon. According to 2014 numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans drink 37 percent less milk than they did in 1970. Whole milk consumption has plummeted by 78 percent during the same period. The dairy industry has spent countless millions on advertising, and… Continue Reading

HAVANA CLUB: Where’s the Rum Gone?

Posted in Mixed Bag of Nuts

You’d probably assume no TTAB proceedings originated in 1995 remain active, but the HAVANA CLUB dispute has some serious staying power. As U.S.-Cuba relations unthaw, one particular trademark battle is also returning to the public eye: the battle between Bacardi and the Cuban government for rights to the HAVANA CLUB mark. A peek at the USPTO database… Continue Reading

The Hashtag / Trademark Paradox: #Trending, but #Proprietary?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Famous Marks, First Amendment, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking

As the hustle and bustle of the INTA 2016 Annual Meeting drew to a close yesterday, I reflected on the session “#HASHTAGS #EverythingYouNeedToKnow” from Tuesday. It seems trademark protection may not (yet) fit comfortably into the hashtag world. DuetsBlog previously provided a helpful tutorial on the nuts and bolts of hashtags and how they function, particularly on the sites Twitter and… Continue Reading

For Trademark Demand Letters, Every Letter Counts

Posted in Food, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Taste, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

It has not been a great week for oatmeal. The Quaker Oats Company (a subsidiary of food and beverage giant PepsiCo), on the heels of a recall for its Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars, has also made a rather embarrassing gaffe on the trademark enforcement front. And unfortunately, demand letters are far more difficult to recall. Evidently, an in-house trademark attorney at… Continue Reading

Apple’s Quest for the “Ownable” Mark

Posted in Articles, Marketing, Social Networking, Squirrelly Thoughts, Technology, Trademarks

No company’s branding strategy is studied more meticulously than Apple, Inc.’s — and of late, Apple has taken a turn for the descriptive with its various operating systems. Every company wants its brands to be distinctive — and the arbitrary APPLE mark is among the most well-known. But its new operating system naming strategy has relied… Continue Reading

Is BETTER BURGER a Done Deal for Chipotle?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Food, Idea Protection, Marketing, Squirrelly Thoughts, Trademarks, USPTO

When it comes to a big company’s trademark filings, the publicly available and freely searchable Trademark Office database can provide great fodder for the media. But don’t believe everything you read: an intent-to-use trademark application is far from gospel. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. stoked the flames of speculation with an application for the mark BETTER BURGER earlier… Continue Reading

Scandalous and Disparaging Marks: The Race to the Trademark Office Is On

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Idea Protection, Infringement, Loss of Rights, Non-Traditional Trademarks, Squirrelly Thoughts, Television, Trademarks, TTAB, USPTO

Owners of scandalous, immoral, or disparaging marks are on notice: now is the time to place your $275 bet with the USPTO. And soon, the Trademark Office database may be “NSFW.” Last Thursday, the USPTO issued Examination Guide 01-16 to address the impact of recent federal court decisions on Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act. That section prohibits registration of… Continue Reading

Make “Trademark” Great Again: No More Verbing!

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Idea Protection, Marketing, SoapBox, Trademarks

In the media, misstatements and misunderstandings of trademark law are legion.  Even the New York Times counts itself among the latest offenders. The Old Grey Lady’s recent article about presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump closed with the following: Records show just one Goldman employee, a financial adviser in the wealth management division, has donated to Mr. Trump… Continue Reading

A Fine Mess: YouTube’s Reaction to REACT

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Food, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Social Networking, Television, Trademark Bullying, Trademarks

In the world of YouTube, subscriber count is king. With over 14 million subscribers, the Fine Brothers seemed at the forefront of new media. But earlier this month, the Internet’s collective scorn for a trademark portfolio sent the Fine Brothers’ subscription count tumbling. If you haven’t been following Benny and Rafi Fine of the Fine Brothers (during your non-work… Continue Reading